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Copyright, 1885, by Morton Prince. 

iiII istereotvpersandprinters'I Ii. 


The basis of the following work was written some 
eight or nine years ago during my student days at the 
medical school, and afterwards served as a graduation 
thesis. Having been urged to publish this thesis by my 
friends, it was enlarged between two and three years ago 
to its present size. I do not think that the views ex- 
pressed in the earlier essay have been changed in any 
important particular, though the phraseology has been in 
many passages altered, partly to make it harmonize with 
the conventional forms of expression used generally by 
writers on this subject, and partly because mature reflec- 
tion made me aware that some of the original terms 
and phrases employed either did not correctly explain 
my meaning, or were lacking in precision and conse- 
quently capable of different interpretations. Many 
points which were of necessity merely touched upon in 
the earlier essay and hence liable to misinterpretation, 
have been since greatly expanded, and, especially in the 
chapter on " Self-Determination,^^ explained more fully, 
extended reasons being given for the conclusions ex- 
pressed. The final chapter, on '^Materialism,^' has been 
entirely added. As I have pursued my studies on this 
subject, the views of other writers have been so far in- 
corporated and criticised as has been thought would 
make the subject-matter clearer. 



The primary object of this book is to discuss certain 
problems of mind and matter — particularly the rela- 
tion between the mind and the brain — simply as ques- 
tions of psychology and physiology^ without regard to 
the bearing they may have on philosophical doctrines. 
Still, all such questions lie so deeply at the root of the 
latter, that it is impossible to discuss the one without 
regarding the effect they have upon the other. Hence 
I have not hesitated to enter into the doctrine of Mate- 
rialism so far as it is affected by the conclusions arrived 
at. Such questions as the relation of the mind to the 
body constitute the foundation of Spiritualism and 
Materialism. The latter, as a result of the great ad- 
vancement which has been made by science during the 
last half-century, has of recent years awakened re- 
newed interest and discussion. This has been directly 
due in no small degree to the writings of such men, 
among others, as Spencer, Huxley, Clifford, and Mauds - 
ley, in England, Vogt, Moleschott, and Biichner, in 
Germany, who, whether all of them have espoused ma- 
terialistic opinions or not, have at any rate given new 
energy to the materialistic school, and aroused the 
opposition of the anti-materialists. It is not always 
eas}', however, to correctly classify many prominent 
writers, as so much that is directly contradictory is 
found in their writings. It is not uncommon to read 
on one page that a given author emphatically denies 
materialism, and on the next to find what is apparently 
the most pronounced materialism. But, notwithstand- 
ing the strong ground on which it is intrenched, and 
the great help which it has received from science, ma- 
terialism has met with strong opposition. Its oppo- 


nents, it must be confessed, have made their attacks 
from all sides, with considerable vigor, and eflPectively 
brought to bear arguments based on philosophy and 
science. And yet, in spite of all its short-comings, 
materialism is essentially the philosophy of science, 
and hence that which must eventually prevail. All 
attacks against it have served only to show its weak 
places, not to break it down. Still, it cannot be denied 
that some of the objections urged against such forms 
of materialism as have been maintained by even its 
ablest advocates have been well founded. This, it 
seems to me, has not been the fault of the doctrine, but 
rather of its expounders. Not only have false mean- 
ings been attributed to it by its opponents, but even its 
advocates have not always understood its first princi- 
ples, and the conclusions which have been drawn from 
scientific data have sometimes been directly in contra- 
diction to the teachings of experience. Whatever 
merit the views advocated in the following pages may 
have, it is to be hoped that they at least harmonize some 
of the hitherto conflicting theories and facts, and that 
the really valid objections to materialism are avoided. 
In the maintenance of the materialistic nature of mind, 
certain difiSculties have almost universally been recog- 
nized, especially on the side of " automatism,'^ '' self-de- 
termination,'' and in the application of the law of the 
Correlation of Forces, etc., which it has been difficult 
to overcome. Nay, more, while it has been seen that 
mind is to be regarded as some sort of " manifestation 
of matter,'^ yet most writers are ready to admit the im- 
possibility of explaining the exact connection between 
the two, and confess an insoluble mystery. Many of 


the most thoroughgoing materialists content themselves 
with stating the intimate union of the mental and physi- 
cal worlds, without attempting to explain how they are 
united. The views maintained in the following pages, it 
is thought, both overcome these difficulties and furnish 
a satisfactory explanation of many of the mysteries of 
the mind, including its relation to the body and other 
kindred questions. The conclusions expressed as to 
the nature of the mind avoid, I believe, the objections 
which have proved fatal to other materialistic doctrines. 

There is one writer whose writings I regret to have 
overlooked until long after this work was completed, 
and a short time before going to press. I refer to the 
late Professor Clifford, who, so far as I know, is the 
only writer whose views on the relation of the mind to 
the body coincide with those expressed in these pages. 
I regret that it was not practicable to refer to Clifford's 
writings more fully in the text, but references have 
been made in foot-notes when there appeared to be 
reason for doing so. 

The original essay was withheld from print during 
these many years for several reasons, not the least 
among them being the desire to reflect well on so diffi- 
cult a subject, which has already baffled some of the 
ablest minds the world has ever produced, before com- 
mitting myself to a public expression of opinion. But 
I may add that continued study and maturer thought 
has only strengthened me in the views originally formed. 

Boston, March, 1885. 







Introductory — Spiritualism and Materialism — Purpose of 
this Work— The Physical Basis of Mind— The Theory of 
Functions — The Theory of Aspects — The Inadequacy of 
both Theories — The Usual Explanation no Explanation — 
The Real Questions to be answered — The Logical Deduc- 
tions from these Theories inconsistent with the known 
Pacts — The Inadequacy of the Usual Explanation gener- 
ally recognized ; by Spencer ; by Tyndall — Fiske — Logical 
Conditions of the Problem — Bain — One Cause of Hostility 
to Materialism — The Notion of Double Properties enter- 
tained by Tyndall ; by Bain — Mind does act upon Body — 
Views of Lewes 3-27 



Statement of the Theorem to be proved — Meaning of Sub- 
jective and Objective — What is meant by Matter and 
Motion- — Pour Different Conceptions of Matter — Careless- 
ness in the Use of the Term Matter — What is meant by 
Cerebral Activities — Their True Nature — Sources of Error 
in investigating the Problem — Parallelism between Phys- 
ical and Mental Processes — Fiske on this Parallelism — 
Fallacy of the Theory of Parallelism— Spencer . . 28-43 






The Argument — The Brain as the Organ of the Mind — 
Grounds for helieving Consciousness to be Dependent 
upon Molecular Motions in the Brain — Nature of the 
Dependence — Four Possible Explanations — The Second 
only probable — Consciousness the Reality of Physical 
Processes — Apparent Paradox — The Eeal Question not 
how Physical Processes are transformed into Consciousness 
— Lewes — Explanation of the Paradox — Nature of the 
Association between Consciousness and the " accompany- 
ing Physical Changes'' 44-60 



The Ultimate Nature of Mind — Consciousness an Ultimate 
— Difficulty of understanding the Transition between 
Mind and Body avoided — Carpenter — Ferrier — There are 
not Two Processes, but One — Feeling is not accompanied 
by Molecular Changes — It is not inconceivable that Mind 
should have been produced from Matter ; Reply to Fiske 
— Spencer and the Substance of *Mind — The Insufficiency 
of the Notion of Mind being a Symbol of something else ; 
also of the Theory of Aspects — Matter and Mind as Dif- 
ferent Modes of apprehending something else — Deduc- 
tions from the foregoing Principle . . . . . 61-82 



The Applicability of the Law to Mental Action— Meaning 
of the Law — Objections to its Application as offered by 
Fiske — Objections answered — Materialism not inconsist- 
ent with this Law 83-90 






Logical Consequences of the Preceding Doctrine — Law of 
Inertia — Consciousness is Passive, not Active — All Mus- 
cular and Mental Action Reflex — Apparent Objection to 
this Conclusion — Use of the Term Reflex to describe Psy- 
chical Facts 93-98 



Automatism the Logical Consequence of the Reflex Theory 
— Automatism modified by the Discovery of the I^ature 
of Mind — Objections to Automatism avoided — Conscious- 
ness an Agent in Determining Action — Lewes and Au- 
tomatism — Huxley — Objections to Consciousness being a 
Collateral Product — Experiments on Animals — Interpre- 
tation of these Experiments — Case of the Fren?h Ser- 
geant 99-130 



Meaning of Self-Determination — Agency by which it is 
accomplished — Nature of the Ego — Self-Determination 
compatible with the Reflex Theory and Automatism — 
All Action determined by the Strongest Motive — Revery 
and Deliberation — Coleridge — Mozart — General Conclu- 
sions 131-148 





Vagueness in the Term — Materialism Misunderstood — Palse 
Meanings attributed to the Term — Only Two Positions 
upon which we can stand — Showing that Mind is the 
Keality of Matter does not transfer it to Spiritualism — 
Any Doctrine which in Substance accepts this is Materi- 
alism — Evolution shows that External Eorces are allied 
in Nature to Consciousness — Materialism does not impair 
the Dignity or Attributes of anything in the Universe — 
The Discovery of the Causation and Origin of Phenomena 
does not alter the Phenomena themselves — Materialism in 
one Kespect more elevating than any other Doctrine — 
The Morality of Materialism — Evolution of Moral Prin- 
ciples — Highly-developed Brain necessary for High Stand- 
ard of Morals among Eaces — High Standard impossible 
among the Lower Eaces — Illustrations of this — Absence 
of the Moral Codes of Civilized Nations not Evidence of 
the Absence of all such Codes in Lower Eaces — Theo- 
logical Codes best suited to Man in his Present State 149-173 



'' The very idea of so noble, so refined, so immaterial, and so 
exalted a being as the anima, or even the animus, taking up her 
residence, and sitting dabbling, like a tadpole, all day long, both 
summer and winter, in a puddle, or in a liquid of any kind, how 
thick or thin soever, he would say, shocked his imagination : he 
would scarce give the doctrine a hearing." — Tristram Shandy^ 
B. ii. eh. 19. 



" When men have once acquiesced in untrue opin- 
ions/^ remarks Hobbes, " and registered them as authen- 
ticated records in their minds, it is no less impossible 
to speak intelligibly to such persons than to write 
legibly on a piece of paper already scribbled over/^ 
Hence it is that any inquiry like that which is the 
subject of this work is fraught with difficulties, which 
are due as much to the fact that most men have already 
acquiesced, without question, in opinions of transmitted 
authority as to the inherent obscurity of the matter. 
And although those, who have given especial thought 
to such questions, and from the stand-point of modern 
science have studied anew the problem of the relation- 
ship of the mind to the body, have arrived at conclu- 
sions differing largely from the orthodox beliefs held 
by the majority of even educated people, still, for a 
long time to come, it cannot be expected that these con- 
clusions will be very widely accepted, until at least 
radical changes are made in modern methods of edu- 
cation. And yet, if all men could and would wipe 
out from their minds, as with a sponge, all existing 
opinions on such matters, and would begin anew to 
build up a doctrine of the nature of mind which should 
be in harmony with existing knowledge, there can be 
no doubt that a very different opinion would be arrived 



at than that which obtains to-day. It is very difficult 
for any one, brought up with certain ideas and beliefs, 
to sufficiently set aside these preconceived notions to 
give due weight to evidence offered by those of an op- 
posed way of thinking. This is one of the reasons, 
aside at least from the inherent difficulty of the subject 
and the lack of exact knowledge of the mechanism of 
the nervous system, why there has been so much differ- 
ence of opinion regarding the relation of the mind to 
the body, and why the opinion maintained by the gen-r 
erality of people differs so widely from that held by the 
leaders in advanced thought. But though there is a 
wide chasm between the notions of the unlearned and 
the scientific writers of the day, there is an equally 
wide one between the latter and another class of men, 
who, though learned in such matters, still, from the 
force of conservatism, adhere to ancient scholastic 
creeds. The philosophical world to-day is divided, as 
it alw^ays has been, into two schools of philosophy, — 
the spiritual and the material, though the latter may 
be said to be the exponent of modern science. 

Spiritualism endeavors to explain all mental phe- 
nomena by presupposing the existence of a spiritual 
something acting through the brain as its instrument : 
materialism looks to the properties of matter alone for 
a solution. But while spiritualism simplifies the prob- 
lem by postulating what in one sense may be consid- 
ered a definite, if incomprehensible, factor, materialism 
on the other hand, protean in its forms, embraces many 
doctrines and appears under many guises. Spiritual- 
ism simply avoids the difficulty by going around it ; 
materialism boldly enters the labyrinth, but often 


becomes lost in its mazes. Materialism, like spiritu- 
alism, was originally the creation of metaphysical 
speculation, and contained very little that was founded 
upon established fact. As long as this was the case, 
as long as materialism was but the product of abstract 
speculation without positive scientific data upon which 
to rest, it was nothing more than a mere collection of 
fanciful hypotheses, without solidity and without sub- 
stantial support. In this respect it was like unto its 
opponent spiritualism, and only merited the neglect 
it formerly received. It is only within the last few 
decades that sufficient evidence has been collected, as 
the result of patient and laborious investigation into 
the phenomena of nature, to justify the offering of 
materialism as a satisfactory explanation of the phe- 
nomena of the universe and to warrant its acceptance. 
With every addition to our knowledge, with every fresh 
discovery in the domains of science, the deeper we pene- 
trate into the mysteries of nature, the stronger becomes 
the doctrine of modern materialism ; until to-day it 
offers the most acceptable explanation of the vital 
problems with which science has to deal. It is difficult 
to understand how any one, who has taken pains to 
thoroughly inform himself on the great scientific ques- 
tions of the day and is conversant with the discoveries 
made of late years in the natural sciences, especially in 
the department of biology, can fail to find in material- 
ism^ the most satisfactory explanation that has yet been 

^ It is only fair to say that by materialism I do not mean any 
of those crude notions which are commonly attached to the term. 
By materialism I mean a much higher form of doctrine, which 
I believe to be the legitimate expression of the scientific thought 



offered of vital phenomena. It is true that what has 
been accomplished is insignificant compared with what 
remains to be done, but with every step forward the 
way becomes clearer and the path surer. In these 
pages we shall be interested only with that aspect of 
materialism which deals with the relation between mind 
and body ; an old question, but one which so far from 
becoming hackneyed with time, receives increasing 
interest from every additional discovery made in the 
physiology of the nervous system. We are to-day, for 
the first time, just beginning to be in a position to in- 
vestigate the problem which nervous physiology alone 
has properly opened to us and which before has re- 
mained as a sealed book. All metaphysical specula- 
tion, not founded on physiological data, as to its con- 
tents must be looked upon as a series of more or less 
shrewd guesses, and even with our present knowledge 
of the functions of the nervous system, we cannot con- 
sider that we have more than arrived at the threshold 
of the inquiry. The time has not yet arrived when we 
can hope to thoroughly understand the relations of the 
mental to the physical world. Nevertheless, as the 
merchant from time to time stops in the midst of his 
transactions to '' take account of stock," so in the prog- 
ress of science, it is well to occasionally pause, and cast 

of the day, though perhaps it is necessary to admit that some of 
the exponents of this thought reject, for what appears to me in- 
sufficient reasons, the term materialism. This may he because 
this expression has often been invested with a meaning, crude 
and unphilosophical, with which this higher form has nothing 
in common. What is understood by materialism will be ex- 
plained in the final chapter, to which the reader is referred. 


our eyes over what has been done, to sum up the evi- 
dence that has been accumulated^ and see whither we 
are drifting. Accordingly, the writer has ventured in 
these pages to call attention to that explanation of the 
problem which seems most in accordance with the 
present condition of science. The subject has been ap- 
proached entirely from a materialistic stand-point, and 
therefore the spiritualist will probably find little herein 
to disconcert him. In a subject so prolific in litera- 
ture as that of the relation of mind and matter, no one 
can hope to invent a theory that has not at some time 
or other been previously suggested. At most one can 
only hope, as fresh additions are made to our knowl- 
edge, to bring new and more potent evidence in sup- 
port of this or that theory, and to read more intelli- 
gently by the light of improved science problems that 
before have been involved in obscurity and veiled in 
mysticism. In the following pages the WTiter has 
simply endeavored to bring forward evidence in sup- 
port of a theory which has seemed to him most in 
accordance with known facts, and to explain by natu- 
ral means phenomena which otherwise border on the 
mysterious. The doctrines Avhich are maintained have 
seemed to him to be the only logical sequences of 
the generally accepted views held to-day in regard to 
the basis of mental processes, and if the latter are ac- 
cepted the other should be also. How far the view^s 
here advocated are in harmony with those of other 
writers will be noticed later. 

If we look a little more closely into the history of 
philosophy, it will be found that it has always been a 
tendency of mankind to explain the unknown by a 


resort to mysterious and supernatural agents. This 
has been true both of animate and inanimate nature. 
It is a tendency which has prevailed in inverse propor- 
tion to the existing knowledge of the causation of 
natural phenomena. The wind^ the thunder, the light- 
ning, the properties of matter, all have at different 
times been explained by means of supernatural or im- 
material agents! Mind has been no exception to this 
law ; but as the cloud which has hung over our knowl- 
edge of biological processes has remained longer un- 
lifted than in other departments of science, the spiritual 
influence has been longer felt, and mental phenomena 
have remained for a longer time enshrouded in 

To-day the weight of authority is in favor of a 
material basis for all mental phenomena. It is gen- 
erally conceded that mind depends upon the develop- 
ment of a peculiar matter, the brain, for its existence. 

The brain is a complex organ made up of what are 
called nerve-cells and nerve-fibres, the latter serving as 
conductors, like ordinary telegraph-wires, for the cells, 
which are the batteries which run the nervous mechan- 
ism. Of the nerve fibres, some connect together the 
neighboring cells, others cells situated in distant parts 
of the brain. Other systems of fibres connect the 
brain with the various parts of the body. Of these 
latter there are two kinds: one ingoing, called the 
sensory or centripetal nerves, which convey impres- 
sions to the cells of the brain; and the other, out- 
going, called motor, or centrifugal, which convey ex- 
citations from the cells of the brain to the muscles, 
viscera, and other parts. This, in a rough way, is 


the anatomical mechanism of the nervous system. 
The more minute structure with still other systems 
of nerves it is not necessary for our purpose to con- 
sider. We have here what is called a nervous loop. 
An impression is conveyed from the skin^ for ex- 
ample, by way of the ingoing nerves to the brain. 
Here an agitation^ is set up among the molecules 
of the cells. -This agitation is conveyed from cell 
to cell, a greater or less number being implicated as 
the case may be ; and finally this molecular motion 
is retransmitted as a nervous current along the out- 
going nerves to the muscles to end in muscular action. 
Now the important point is this : at the moment 
w^hen the ingoing current reaches the cerebral mole- 
cules, a feeling of some sort arises in the individual, 
and continues as long as these molecules continue in 
agitation, and ceases when the molecular motion ceases. 
Whenever the molecules of the brain are set into ac- 
tivity, a sensation or thought of some kind occurs; 
and, vice versa, whenever a thought or sensation arises^ 
a corresponding molecular agitation occurs. Let us 
take a concrete example. A man is sitting in his 
library quietly reading. The rays of light from his 
book fall upon his retina and excite the terminal fila- 
ments of the optic nerve; from here the impression is 
carried as a neural current to the brain, and excites the 
molecules of the cells. Along with this excitement of 
the cerebral molecules there arises the image called the 
book, and all the various thoughts corresponding to the 
printed words of the page. These thoughts are said 

^ Often called undulations, tremors, vibrations, etc. 


to occur side by side with the molecular agitation. 
Suddenly the cry of " fire'^ is raised. The man throws 
down his book, jumps from his chair, and runs down 
stairs in answer to the alarm. Now what has occurred 
in his nervous apparatus ? The pulsations of the at- 
mosphere corresponding to the sound '' fire'^ have struck 
upon his auditory apparatus ; from there they have 
been conveyed as a neural undulation or current along 
the auditory nerve to his brain and there aroused a new 
set of molecular motions ; and with them a new set of 
thoughts has arisen, embracing perhaps a mental picture 
of the house in flames and of danger to the inmates. 
But not stopping here, the cerebral motion has been 
transmitted along the outgoing nerves to the muscles, 
and resulted in the actions just described ; we have 
here, from a physical point of view, what is called a 
nervous circuit. On the one hand we have a series of 
molecular motions beginning with irritations of sen- 
sory nerves, and passing as cerebral motions through 
the brain, ending in muscular action ; and on the other 
hand we have states of consciousness correlated with 
a portion of that circuit, the cerebral portion. In this 
or in some modified form of this consists all nervous 
and mental action. On this fact is based the doctrine 
of the physical basis of mind, which recognizes the 
association and interdependence of molecular motions 
and consciousness. Underneath, then, every mental act 
there flows a physical current. With every thought, 
sensation, or emotion is associated a physical change in 
a material substance, — the brain. No mental act can 
take place without a corresponding physical change; 
no physical change without a corresponding mental 


act. Such is the usually accepted doctrine of the 
present day. 

According to this view we have two sets of phe- 
nomena, two classes of facts, a mental act and a physi- 
cal change, invariably associated together. But this is 
very far from explaining the nature of mental processes. 
The further question is here presented to us, What is 
the nature of this association ? Is it to be looked upon, 
as many think, as a mere coexistenoe of dissimilar phe- 
nomena, rather than as one in which any dependency 
of the one upon the other can be traced ? And are we 
here to place a limit to our inquiries, and consider that 
the problem has been reduced to its lowest terms ? If 
we are content to do so, very little progress can be said 
to have been made towards understanding the relation- 
ship between mind and matter. Unless some causal 
or interdependent relation between the two can be 
established, we shall be very little better off than we 
were before physiological science undertook to solve 
the problem. 

But, in truth, physiological science does pretend to 
go further, though a careful study of the teachings of 
the exponents of the modern school will reveal two 
different interpretations of the facts, however unani- 
mous they may appear at first sight. These two inter- 
pretations may be termed the Theory of Functions and 
the Theory of Aspects. Both theories I hope to be 
able to show are neither a sufficient nor correct expla- 
nation of the facts. 

The basis of both doctrines is a physical substance 
underlying both series of facts, — the physical disturb- 
ances, and consciousness, — but the relation which the 


two series bear to this substance differs in the two 
theories. First^ as to the Theory of Functions. 

After a careful study of the reasoning by which this 
conclusion has been reached, as well as of the general 
nreaning which seems to underlie the writings of the 
principal authorities on the subject, I am convinced 
that there is only one intelligible meaning with which 
this doctrine can be invested, and that is this : there is 
one underlying matter or substance ; this substance has 
two properties, — one of these properties is known as 
those disturbances w^e call nerve-motions, the other is 
consciousness ; that is, our ideas, sensations, and emo- 
tions. When nerve-motions, the one "property'^ of 
this matter, is present, consciousness, the other '^ prop- 
erty,^' appears simultaneously. Both come and both 
go side by side together; but why when one appears 
the other should do so also we do not know. They 
may be likened to the following ideal case. Let us in- 
vest a piece of iron with the properties of magnetism 
and heat under ideal conditions. Let us suppose 
(which is not the case) that whenever the temperature 
of the iron is raised above that of the surrounding air 
it becomes magnetized, and, conversely, whenever it 
becomes magnetized the temperature becomes raised. 
In this case the magnetism could be said to correspond 
with consciousness and heat with nerve-motions. 

This simile must not be pushed farther than is in- 
tended. In this case of the iron the heat will probably 
be inferred to be the cause of the magnetism, and vice 
versa. But this has scarcely been asserted to be the 
case with mind and the accompanying neural undula- 
tions. The analogy is applicable only so far as con- 


cerns the parallelism of the phenomena. Conscious- 
ness and nerve-motions are said only to run in parallel 
circuits. When one is present, the other is also pres- 
ent. They resemble two clocks, which, wound up at 
the same moment, record the time and strike the hours 
in perfect harmony. '^ We can trace,'^ says Tyndall, 
'^ the development of a nervous system, and correlate 
with it the parallel phenomena of sensation and thought. 
We see with undoubting certainty that they go hand 
in hand. But we try to soar in a vacuum the moment 
we seek to comprehend the connection between them/^^ 
and yet '^ though t,^^ says Huxley, " is as much a function 
of matter as motion is.^^ ^ 

Although the theory has not often, if at all, been 
stated as distinctly or boldly as has just been done, still 
I think I am justified in this interpretation of it. This 
is the general idea underlying this form of the mate- 
rialistic doctrine, and is the only meaning which can 
be deduced from the writings of such men as have ac- 
cepted it, although it may be suspected that the very 
vagueness with which it is often stated is not indicative 
of a clear conception of the defined conditions. Fur- 
thermore, this interpretation is the only one which is 
logically compatible vnth the deductions which have been 
drawn from the doctrine itself. This I hope to be able 
to show later. Till then I shall have to ask the reader 
to provisionally accept it. According to this doctrine 
we may be said to have to do with a unity of sub- 
stance and a duality of properties. 

The Theory of Aspects differs considerably from this, 

* Belfast Address, p. 62. 2 Qn Descartes. 


though the two are sometimes confused and regarded 
as identical. There is certainly often lacking that pre- 
cision of language which is essential to a clear under- 
standing of the problem. 

According to the Theory of Aspects^ consciousness 
and nerve motions (vibrations) are only different aspects 
of one and the same underlying substance, which is 
unknown. This view has perhaps been as clearly ex- 
pressed by Bain, as by any one else, when he says, " the 
one substance with two sets of properties, two sides (the 
physical and the mental), a double-faced unity, would 
seem to comply with all the exigencies of the case.^^ ^ 

The same notion has thus been described by Lewes : 
'' There may be every ground for concluding that a 
logical process has its correlative physical process, and 
that the two processes are merely two aspects of one 
event." ^ And again : ^' The two processes are equiva- 
lent, and the difference arises from the difference in the 
mode of apprehension." ^ 

The inadequacy of these theories of Functions and 
Aspects to explain much of the diflSculty is admitted 
by most writers almost in the same breath in which 
they advanced them. That which has received the 
most general acceptance is the Theory of Aspects, but 
as an explanation it is incomplete. To say that con- 
sciousness is the subjective aspect of matter is equiva- 
lent to saying that consciousness is the conscious side 
of matter, which is no explanation. It is simply 
stating over again in different terms the fact we wish 

1 Mind and Body, p. 196. 

« Physical Basis of Mind, p. 395. ^ ibj^. 


to explain ; and similarly^ to say that nerve-motion is 
the objective aspect of the same matter is simply to say 
that nerve- motions are objective phenomena, which is 
what we knew before. These are only restatements of 
the facts, not explanations of them. Nor does it help 
matters to say that the same matter underlies both, or 
the difference between them is due to different modes 
of apprehending the same thing. I shall have more 
to say on this point in chapter iv., to which the reader 
is referred. What we wish to know is this : Sow do 
we come to have two aspects instead of one f Why, when 
we have one aspect, should we also have at the same 
time the other? How is the one set of changes, the 
physical, related to the other set, the mental ? What 
is that connection between them that insures the pres- 
ence of a feeling when physical disturbances are pro- 
duced, or when a feeling is present, induces physical 
disturbances? What difference is there between the 
essential nature of an objective fact, like a neural 
tremor, and a subjective state or feeling, and have they 
anything in common f These are important questions 
which call for answers, and any doctrine which fails to 
explain them falls far short of the requirements of the 
case. But these questions, there need be no hesitation 
in saying, neither the theory of functions nor aspects 
explains. On the contrary, the former has led to de- 
ductions which, though logically drawn from the prem- 
ises, are inconsistent with the facts established by each 
one's own consciousness. Consequently the premises 
must be false. The deductions I refer to I propose to 
consider in a later chapter, and therefore that discussion 
will not be anticipated here, farther than to say that, 


accepting this explanatiODj it has been held by some, 
that states of consciousness are merely by-products^ and 
in nowise essential to the working of the body ; or, in 
other words^ that our feelings have no causative influ- 
ence in the production of our actions. So that when I 
eat because (as I suppose) I am hungry, or work out 
an intricate mathematical problem, or strike some one 
who made me angry, I am not prompted to these acts, 
and do not carry them into execution under the direc- 
tion of my thoughts and feelings, but these acts are 
done by the mechanism of the brain, and the chemical 
and physical changes which work the mechanism are 
simply accompanied by my feelings and thoughts, but 
not influenced in any way by them. Our feelings be- 
come simply indicators, like those of a steam-engine, 
which tell the number of revolutions, and height of 
pressure, without in any way affecting the revolutions 

Such a conclusion is sufficient to reduce the whole 
theory to an absurdity. 

The inadequacy of the above explanations, however 
simple and satisfactory they may appear at first sight, 
is recognized on all sides, and is the same whether it be 
approached on the physical or on the subjective side. 
They simply avoid the difficulty, they do not remove it. 
This difficulty is, as I have said, in explaining how we 
come to have two aspects, and how these two ^^ aspects'^ 
are related; how physical changes become translated 
into the subjective feeling. That the two are correlated 
in time, that is, that the two occur simultaneously, side 
by side, is plain enough and easily understood, but it is 
confessedly not so easy to understand how the one be- 


comes ^' transformed^^ (?) into the other ; how, in fact, a 
feeling insures the presence of a physical motion, and 
a physical motion, of a feeling. Thus Mr. Spencer, 
who, as a psychologist, has treated the matter in a 
masterly manner, maintains this view of different as- 
pects. " For what,^^ he says, '^ is objectively a change 
in a superior nerve-centre is subjectively a feeling, and 
the duration under the one aspect measures the duration 
of it under the other.^^ ^ And the same thing is re- 
peated in other passages. But this is no explanation, 
as Mr. Spencer himself tacitly recognizes when he later 
adds, '^ though accumulated observations and experi- 
ments have led us by a very indirect series of infer- 
ences to the belief that mind and nervous action are 
the subjective and objective faces of the same thing, 
we remain utterly incapable of seeing and even of imagin- 
ing how the two are related. Mind still continues to us 
a something without any kinship to other things; and 
from the science which discovers by introspection the 
laws of this something, there is no passage by trans- 
itional steps to the sciences which discover the laws of 
these other things.^^^ Here is a mystery which he 
recognizes in common even with his spiritualistic 

Professor Tyndall, as a physicist and avowed ma- 
terialist, as one who finds in the properties of matter 
alone suflScient to account for everything in the uni- 
verse, both for the objective phenomena about us, and 
for the subjective world of consciousness within, " bows 

^ Principles of Psychology, 2d ed., ii. p. 107. 
2 Ibid., p. 140. The italics not in original. 
5 2^ 


his bead in the dust before that mystery of the mind, 
which has hitherto defied its own penetrative power, 
and which may ultimately resolve itself into a demon- 
strable impossibility of self-penetration/' ^ While Pro- 
fessor Tyndall finds in matter alone sufficient to account 
for the existence of mind, he still recognizes the diffi- 
culty whereof we speak. "The passage/^ he says, 
'' from the physics of the brain to the corresponding 
facts of consciousness is unthinkable. Granted that a 
definite thought, and a definite molecular action of the 
brain, occur simultaneously : we do not possess the in- 
tellectual organ, nor apparently any rudiment of the 
organs which w^ould enable us to pass, by a process of 
reasoning, from one to the other. They appear to- 
gether, but we do not know why. Were our minds 
and senses so expanded, strengthened, and illuminated 
as to enable us to see and feel the very molecules of the 
brain ; were we capable of following all their motions, 
all their groupings, all their electric discharges, if such 
there be ; and were we intimately acquainted with the 
corresponding states of thought and feeling, we should 
be as far as ever from the solution of the problem : 
How^ are these physical processes connected with the 
facts of consciousness? The chasm between the two 
classes of phenomena would still remain intellectually 
impassable.''^ " We may think over the subject again 
and again ; it eludes all intellectual presentation; we 
stand at length face to face with the incomprehensible.'' ^ 
It mav be seen how insufficient is the boasted nlodern 

1 Apology for the Belfast Address. 

2 Scientific Materialism in Fragments of Science, p. 420. 
8 Apology for the Belfast Address. Same, p. 560. 


scientific doctrine as explained by Spencer and others, 
even to those who maintain it, by turning to the works 
of Mr. Fiske, a disciple and enthusiastic admirer of 
Mr. Spencer. '^ Henceforth/' he says, '' we may regard 
materialism as ruled out, and relegated to that limbo 
of crudities to which we some time since consigned the 
hypothesis of special creations. The latest results of 
scientific inquiry, whether in the region of objective 
psychology or in that of molecular physics, leave the 
gulf between mind and matter quite as wide as it was 
judged to be in the time of Descartes. It still remains 
as true as then, that between that of w^hich the differ- 
ential attribute is thought and that of which the differ- 
ential attribute is extension, there can be nothing like 
identity or similarity. Although we have come to see 
that between the manifestations of the two there is 
such an unfailing parallelism that the one group of 
phenomena can be correctly described by formulas 
originally invented for describing the other group, yet 
all that has been established is this parallelism.'' ^ 

Many other writers, physiologists and psychologists 
alike, might be quoted to the same effect, but it is 
hardly necessary. 

It is naturally vv^ith considerable hesitation that one 
attempts to explain that which such thoughtful minds 
declare to be inexplicable, and yet it may fairly be 
questioned whether, after all, this '' mystery" is not a 
dust of their own raising. It may be asked whether 
each, the physiologist and psychologist, has not ap- 
proached the subject too much from his own point of 

1 Cosmic Philosophy, vol. ii. p. 445. 


view to the exclusion of that of the other; whether 
the physiologist has not paid too strict attention to the 
physical phenomena to the neglect of facts of con- 
sciousness, while the psychologist has kept too steadily 
in mind the data of consciousness and left out of sight 
the physical side. I would not be understood to insin- 
uate that either took no account of one or the other 
side. This would be merely presumptuous misstate- 
ment. On the contrary, both recognize one material 
basis for both classes of facts ; both recognize that the 
presence of consciousness cannot be disassociated from 
the physical changes w^hich are supposed to accompany 
it, and that we cannot have one without the other. 
But after recognizing this, and indeed emphasizing it 
and insisting upon it, they straightway take leave of 
one another, and travel in different directions. 

When discussing such a subtle subject as the nature 
of the relation between mind and matter, it is necessary 
to keep constantly before one both the facts which terms 
represent and the ultimate analysis of those facts, and 
to bear the whole of this ultimate analysis constantly 
in mind. For example, when we speak of a material 
object we must constantly keep before us what we 
really mean by this object; we must have before us the 
notion of a number of sensations or states of our own 
mind, such as extension, color, hardness, etc., which are 
commonly, though of course erroneously, located in the 
object itself; then the notion of the supposed some- 
thing existing outside of us, and which is the cause of 
those sensations ; and, lastly, the inferred reaction be- 
tween the two, by which the latter excite in us the 
sensations we call properties of the object. Unless the 


wliole of this is constantly remembered we are liable to 
be drawn into fallacies, for it is only in this way that 
in any given set of phenomena that which is subjective 
can be picked out and separated from that which is 
objective. In the simplest example of the objective 
world, as of a table or book, that which is subjective, 
and the creation of the mind is so interwoven with that 
which is objective, and which really exists outside of 
us, that only those learned in such matters can distin- 
guish between them. Nine persons out of ten, if told 
that those physical characteristics which distinguish 
one picture from another — the beauty of the coloring, 
the grace of the drawing, and the ^* tone'^ — do not 
reaHy belong to it, but exist as such only in the mind 
of the observer, would indignantly repel your insinua- 
tions, and if you still insisted upon it as a philosophical 
truth, you would be set down as a ^^crank'^ for your 
superior knowledge. Even the most acute thinkers, 
those most conversant with these truths, will sometimes 
fall into the pitfall of objectivity. Alexander Bain, 
for example, in chapter vi. on the Union of Mind and 
Body, remarks, — 

^' Walking in the country in spring, our mind is oc- 
cupied with the foliage, the bloom, and the grassy 
meads, — all purely objective things; we are suddenly 
and strongly arrested by the odor of the May blossom ; 
we give way for a moment to the sensation of sweet- 
ness : for that moment the ohjedive regards cease; we 
think of nothing extended ; we are in a state where 
extension has no footing; there is to us place no 
longer.'^ ^ 

^ Loc. cit., p. 135. Italics not in original. 


Now why is the sense of smell any less objective than 
the sense of sight? When we smell anything, how 
does the subjective element enter into it any more than 
it does in our mental condition when we see anything? 
The odor called sweetness is as much objective as those 
sensations of sight which he calls ^Hhe foliage, the 
bloom, and the grassy meads/' Sweetness is not ex- 
tended to be sure, but that is simply because smell is 
not sight or touch. Sweetness is a sensation which 
we commonly ascribe to objects, such as a rose or an 
orange, and we say that it belongs to them as a prop- 
erty, and hence is objective.-^ Further, though sweet- 
ness is not extended, that which causes the sensation 
of sweetness is capable of being presented to us through 
the sense of vision, ideally or actually, and then becomes 

Perhaps the principal reason for the great hostility 
which the materialistic doctrine has evoked on all sides 
is to be found, as has been hinted above, in the deduc- 
tions which some writers have seen fit to draw from it. 
Because mind is only a " manifestation of matter'^ it 
has been maintained in some quarters that conscious- 
ness plays an unessential part in our cerebral processes, 

^ It may be urged in objection tbat the pleasurable emotion 
accompanying the odor, being entirely a subjective state, elimi- 
nates the objective element from the whole. But this would be 
equally true of the sensations of sight, such as "the foliage, 
the bloom," etc. There is more of a subjective element about 
sight than smell, for a visual perception of an object is a com- 
pound sensation, made up of color, absence or presence of light, 
size and shape (extension), and the combining of these into an 
idea of the object is a process of judgment, — an entirely subjec- 
tive state. 


and has nothing to do with determining our actions. 
No less an authority than Professor Huxley has ex- 
pressed the opinion that the '' consciousness of brutes [and 
men] would appear to be related to the mechanism of 
the body simply as a collateral product of its working, 
and to be as completely without the power of modify- 
ing that working as the steam-whistle, which accom- 
panies the work of a locomotive-engine, is without 
influence upon its machinery.'^ The lecture in \vhich 
he gave expression to this view exposed him, in conse- 
quence, to a storm of vituperation and abuse, which 
might have overwhelmed a less fearless and able man 
than Professor Huxley. That this conclusion should 
not be accepted is proper, because it is not in accord- 
ance with the facts, aud therefore either the premises 
or the reasoning by which it was reached must be false. 
In this case I conceive it to be the premises. I shall 
refer to this point in a later chapter and in another 
connection. But, on the other hand, it must be ad- 
mitted that these views are the logical deductions of 
that doctrine which represents matter and mind to be 
double but parallel properties of matter. In this con- 
text it will be interesting to notice how the same idea 
of double properties impregnates the thought of another 
vigorous thinker, Mr. Tyndall. He recognizes two 
difficulties, two alternativeSj neither of which can he 
accept. He consequently '' bows his head'^ in his ac- 
knowledged ignorance before ^^ two incomprehensibles." 
The error is the same ; it lies partly in his premises, 
and partly in not keeping in mind what is subjective 
and what is objective in the notion of motion. He 


'^ The discussion above referred to turns on the 
question, Do states of consciousness enter as links into 
the chain of antecedence and sequence, which give rise 
to bodily action and to other states of consciousness, or 
are they merely by-products, which are not essential to 
the physical processes going on in the brain ? Speak- 
ing for myself, it is certain that I have no power of 
imagining states of consciousness interposed between 
the molecules of the brain, and influencing the trans- 
ference of motion among the molecules. The thought 
^eludes all mental presentation,^ and hence the logic 
seems of iron strength, which claims for the brain an 
automatic action uninfluenced by states of conscious- 
ness. But it is, I believe, admitted by those who hold 
the automatic theory that states of consciousness are 
produced by the marshalling of the molecules of the 
brain; and this production of consciousness by molec- 
ular motion is to me quite as unthinkable as the pro- 
duction of molecular motion by consciousness. If, 
therefore, unthinkability be the proper test, I must 
equally reject both classes of phenomena. I, how- 
ever, reject neither, and thus stand in the presence of 
two incomprehensibles instead of one incomprehen- 
sible.^^ ^ 

The difficulty lies here: if physical changes and 
consciousness are double and parallel properties, then, 
as the former is known to enter as a link in the dy- 
namic circuit, the latter cannot, and must, therefore, be 
a by-product, without influence over our bodily actions. 
On the other hand, the conscious property cannot be 

^ Apology for the Belfast Address. 


thought of as entering into the dynamic circuit, be- 
cause of the error above insisted upon of confusing the 
subjective side of the notion of molecules with the real 
objective or unknown side, the molecules-in-them- 
selves. This fallacy pervades the whole passage. 

Even Bain has this idea of a double property. 
"The only tenable supposition is that mental and 
physical proceed together as undivided terms/^ (This 
is not an explanation ; it is only a restatement of the 
association of mental and physical states.) " When, 
therefore, we speak of a mental cause, a mental agency, 
w^e have always a two- sided cause; the effect produced is 
not the effect of mind alone, but of mind in company 
with body. That mind should have operated on the 
body is as much as to say that a two-sided phenom- 
enon, one side being bodily, can influence the body; it 
is, after all, body acting upon body. When a shock of 
fear paralyzes digestion, it is not the emotion of fear in 
the abstract or as a pure mental existence that does the 
harm; it is the emotion in company with a peculiarly ex- 
cited condition of the nervous system; and it is this con- 
dition of the brain tuhich deranges the stomach,^' ^ 

Now, on the contrary, we are entitled to believe that 
our mind does not deceive us in this respect, and that 
it is the sensation of fear which deranges the stomach. 
How it does it is another question, but that it does it is 
beyond dispute. When, at the thought of something 
disagreeable, we feel nausea and the stomach " rebels,^^ 
I believe we are entitled to maintain that the disagree- 
able thought is the cause both of the nausea and the 

1 Mind and Body, p. 131. Italics not in original. 
B 3 


spasm of the stomach. When, at the thought of a 
delicious morsel, our ^^ mouth waters/^ it is the thought 
itself, par excellence, which causes the flow of saliva. 
But how is the problem requiring solution. I do not 
think any one can read Mr. Bain's work without be- 
lieving that his treatment of this part of the subject is 
vague and unsatisfactory. 

One thing must be admitted as a logical conse- 
quence of this doctrine. If consciousness and neural 
processes are only collateral parallel phenomena, the 
former must be excluded from all part in that working 
of the body in which the latter enter as links in the 
circuit of neural undulations. 

The difficulty is we have been looking too much 
through prismatic spectacles, and have seen one line as 

Sufficient has been said to show not only how inade- 
quate is the commonly accepted modern doctrine to 
explain the relation between mind and matter, but that 
this very doctrine, when carried to its logical conse- 
quences, leads to the denial of the truth of that convic- 
tion possessed by each one of us, that our feelings have 
something to do with the production of our actions. 
They become merely collateral products of the work- 
ings of the body. 

But there is one writer to whom I wish to call atten- 
tion, who for clearness of thought, precision of expres- 
sion, and for correct use of terms has rarely been 
equalled by any writer on this subject. I refer to the 
late George H. Lewes, whose work on the Physical 
Basis of Mind has not received, at least in this country, 
the attention it merits. I know of no one who has so 


correctly appreciated the nature of the problem to be 
solved. To Mr. Lewes belongs the credit of being the 
first to offer an explanation of many of the difficulties 
of the problem ; an explanation which in some re- 
spects must be accepted as final. And yet his conclu- 
sions I cannot accept, believing them not to be the logical 
outcome of his arguments. He maintains ih^ view of 
difference in '^ aspects^' which has already been referred 
to. This, I hope to show, is not a logical or adequate 
explanation. I cannot at this time refer more particu- 
larly to his argument/ as it would be anticipating what 
will necessarily follow.^ 

In the next chapter we shall consider the nature of 
the problem to be solved and the difficulties surround- 
ing it. 

1 I regret that I should have overlooked the writings of the 
late Professor Clifford on this suhject. It was not till a short 
time before going to press, and some years after this work was 
written, that I became aware of his essay, entitled " Body and 
Mind" (Lectures and Essays). The essay just referred to, to- 
gether with two others on the same subject, " Things in Them- 
selves" and " The Unseen Universe," are masterpieces of lucid 
exposition. Professor Clifford, whose death was such a loss to 
the world, possessed to a rare degree the faculty of both clearly 
conceiving what he wished to say, and saying it in a happy way 
that was at once thoroughly intelligible and attractive. 

I rejoice to say that the views of this vigorous thinker on the 
question of the relation between Mind and Body agree with those 
expressed in this work. He is the only writer so far as I know 
whose views coincide with those herein advanced. I regret that 
I am prohibited from referring more particularly in the text to 
his writings. 




Having now become familiar with that doctrine 
which has been most generally accepted by those best 
qualified to judge, and having seen how far short it 
falls of explaining the connection between those activi- 
ties we call mental and those activities w^e call physi- 
cal ; nay, having seen that it has even been declared 
that " the task of transcending or abolishing the radical 
antithesis between the phenomena of mind and the 
phenomena of motions of matter must always remain 
an impracticable task. For in order to transcend or 
abolish this radical antithesis, we must be prepared to 
show how a given quantity of molecular motion in 
nerve-tissue can become transformed into a definable 
amount of ideation or feeling. But this, it is quite 
safe to say, can never be done f ^ having become con- 
versant with all this, we shall now proceed, refusing to 
accept this verdict, to attempt the task ; with what 
success we shall leave to the reader to determine. 

I shall state at the outset that theorem which I con- 
ceive will answer all the requirements of the case and 
which it shall be my effort to prove. 

It is this : instead of there beins: one substance with 

1 Fiske's Cosmic Philosophy, ii. p. 442. 


two properties or " aspects/^ — mind and motion, — there 
is one substance, mind ; and the other oppareni^ prop- 
erty, motion, is only the way in which this real sub- 
stance, mind, is apprehended by a second organism : 
only the sensations of, or eflFect upon, the second organ- 
ism, when acted upon (ideally) by the real substance, 

This may, at first sight, appear to the reader as 
practically the same thing, only expressed in different 
terms. Bat it is not so. There is a radical difference 
in the conception. The one recognizes one substance 
with duality of ^^ properties'^ or '^aspects;'' the other, 
one substance with one aspect only. If the meaning 
of this, at this time, be not clear or be not admitted, I 
must ask the reader to suspend his judgment, and to 
follow me with open-mindedness through the next 
chapter. If it shall then be found that this theorem 
both explains all the difficulties we have encountered 
and does not lead to conclusions inconsistent with the 
facts, I shall consider that I am justified in my reason- 

In this problem we have to do with the relationship 
between two worlds which are considered to be radi- 
cally antithetical in their nature, — the world of thought 
and feeling, and the world of things. The former is 
called subjective, the latter objective. It will be neces- 
sary before going further to inquire more intimately 
into what we mean by each. This inquiry will neces- 
sarily involve what will probably be judged by those 
learned in the matter a tedious restatement of first 
principles, but it is absolutely necessary for a proper 
appreciation of the argument for those not well versed 



in philosophic matters. Therefore no apology will be 
offered for the digression. 

The subjective world is well known to every one. 
We all know what a thought is, or an emotion of 
fear, or anger, or a sensation of pain or sweetness. No 
definition can make the knowledge any more definite. 
But the objective world about us is not so well known 
to us. He who imagines that the things about him in 
the room — the chairs, the table^ the pictures — are really 
what they seem, is grievously mistaken. He who picks 
up a book, and, perceiving something which has a 
certain shape, size, hardness and color, say redness, 
and thinks that these qualities reside as such in the 
something he calls a book, does not know what per- 
ceiving a thing consists in. Physiology teaches us 
that the qualities of any object, as the book, are only 
a number of sensations, and accordingly states of our 
own consciousness. These sensations we are in the 
habit of projecting outside of us, and then imagining 
they exist as such independent of our own conscious- 
ness ; but as a matter of fact they do not exist as such. 
When these sensations occur grouped together in a 
particular way, we call the group, after being thus 
imagined to exist outside our minds, an object. Each 
sensation then becomes a quality of the object which is 
the whole group. 

The object, then, does not exist as such outside of us, 
but is only a bundle of our sensations. Undoubtedly 
something exists outside of us which is the cause of 
these sensations in us. This something has been called 
the thing-in-itself, but its nature is unknown to us. 
If this is. not clear, perhaps an example will make it 


SO. We are looking at the question now entirely from 
a physiological point of view. When I say that my 
pipe is yellow, I do not mean that there is anything 
like yellowness existing in the pipe-itself, but the rays 
of light reflected from the '^pipe^^ fall upon the retina, 
and a commotion is excited among the fibres of the 
optic nerve. This commotion is conveyed to the brain, 
and there, in some way or other (which it will be our 
object to explain later), the sensation of yellowness is 
created ; so that the quality of yellowness exists in the 
mind of the observer and not in the pipe itself. All 
the other qualities of the pipe may similarly be re- 
solved into states of our own consciousness, as, for ex- 
ample, hardness, shape, etc. It is only after we have 
imagined these sensations to exist outside of us that 
we can regard the pipe to exist as a pipe at all. But 
after we have abstracted these qualities from the 
*^pipe,^^ what remains behind? We have every reason 
to believe that something, which we may call the thing- 
in-itself, exists independent of our consciousness. What 
this is is another question, which is far beyond our pur- 
pose to consider here. We may simply say that there 
are certain activities existing outside our conscious- 
ness, which correspond to certain modes of our con- 
sciousness, and constitute the reality of the latter when 
these are projected outside of us to form phenomena. 
The nature of these activities is practically unknown 
to us. The only thing we know is our sensations. 
The material world is thus resolved into certain un- 
known activities and certain groups of sensations, 
which latter constitute our perception of the former. 
That these activities, constituting the thing-in-itself, 


exist at all is an inference, but an inference of such 
irresistible force that we cannot resist it. Thus, the 
properties of objects are all sensations dependent on 
unknown activities outside of us. When these ac- 
tivities exist grouped together in a particular way, so 
as to produce a particular group of sensations, we call 
this group a book, or table, or chair, and artificially 
locate the sensations in the external matter as its quali- 
ties. These activities in matter, which may be said to 
constitute matter, are unknown, and should be denom- 
inated simply by X. 

The apphcation of all this will soon become appar- 
ent, if it is not so already. That which we call the 
subjective world is composed of our thoughts and feel- 
ings ; that which we call the objective world is a mass 
of activities unknown to us, but conventionally desig- 
nated by subjective terms of sensation, as red, hard, 
sweet, etc. ; and these sensations are the reaction of the 
organism to these external unknown activities. 

Now to extend this reasoning to the same conditions, 
but submitted to a further analysis, what do we mean 
by motions, undulations, and such phenomena? On 
analyzing light by physical methods we find it to 
consist of oscillations of molecules of the ether. We 
find that difference in the color of light is due to a 
difference in the length of these oscillations ; that in 
red light, for example, the length of oscillation is 
0.0000271 inch, and blue light 0.0000155 inch, or a 
little over half as long as that of the red. Sound is said 
to be due to vibrations of the atmosphere, and the pitch 
of any note depends upon the rate of vibration of each 
particle of air, the greater the rapidity of the vibra- 


tions the higher the note, and vice versa. Heat is 
said to be motion among the molecules of matter, — 
the more rapid or violent the motion the greater the 

Now what is meant by all this? Is there anything 
really existing outside of us identical with these 
motions ? Do these motions or vibrations really exist 
as such outside of our own mind? Have, in fact, the 
oscillations of the ether any more real objective exist- 
ence than red light or green light? Not at all. We 
have simply made the really existing, but unknown, 
activities in matter impress us through different chan- 
nels ; made them appear as motion instead of color; 
made the disturbances of the atmosphere appear 
through the sense of sight instead of hearing, — as 
motioQ instead of sound; made heat appear through 
the sense of sight instead of touch, — as motion instead 
of heat. But the new sensations have no more real 
objective existence than old and familiar ones. These 
phenomena have simply been translated from terms of 
one sense into those of another. Color, sound, and 
heat have now ceased to be such, and have become 
motion. These activities can be made by suitable de- 
vices to appear to us through several senses ; but we 
must never lose sight of the device, nor of the un- 
known nature of the activities. 

When we talk about matter, then, what do we mean ? 
We may have four different notions, each radically dis- 
tinct, and unless we bear constantly in mind to which 
we refer we are liable to be led into confusion of 

1st. There is the notion we may have of our own 


conscious states. As such without reference to any 
thing beyond them^ and consisting of groups of sensa- 
tions, as of the motion of two points (which points may 
again be resolved into sensations, — color, shape, etc.). 
This motion may be called subjective matter. 

2d. The notion of the unknown reality, or thing-in- 
itself, existing outside of us, and corresponding to these 
sensations, — the unknown X. This may be called 
actual matter, 

3d. The double notion of both these two classes of 
facts and the relation between them. This embraces 
the other two, and is the one which should be particu- 
larly kept in view when inquiring into the ultimate 
nature of things. 

4th. The common idea of matter as employed in 
ordinary discourse and in the physical sciences. In 
this sense, matter is made to include our conscious 
states (1st notion) after being projected outside of us, 
and artificially made to have an active existence as 
phenomena or objects. This may be caWed phenomenal 
matter. This, as has already been explained, is philo- 
sophically an erroneous notion, being only an artifice, 
but nevertheless one that is necessary for the ordinary 
purposes of social life and the pursuit of the physical 
sciences. Here it is of inestimable value, and, in fact, 
we could not do without it. It would-be ridiculous, 
not only in the every-day use of language, but in our 
conceptions employed to carry on the ordinary affairs 
of life, to bear any other notion in mind. 

In discussing philosophical matters, however, it 
should always be remembered that it is only through 
an artifice, as Lewes has pointed out, that we have this 


conception ; but it is an artifice that is indispensable 
when properly employed. 

Now in these different notions embraced by " matter'^ 
lies the gist of the whole question under consideration. 
These are facts which even Macaulay's wonderful 
school-boy ought to know, though it is to be feared 
that his education has been sadly neglected in this re- 
spect. Certainly every one who has discussed the sub- 
ject since Berkeley wrote knows them, and yet we 
continually go on talking about " matter'^ as if it were 
perfectly plain what we meant, and it were impossible 
to misunderstand which of the four notions we had 
reference to. We take the precaution to analyze the 
meaning of the term in a sort of prologue to our argu- 
ments, discover that it covers at least four different 
classes of facts, insist upon the importance of the dis- 
covery, and straightway apparently forget all about it 
when we happen to require the term for use. I do not 
think I speak too strongly in saying that it too often 
happens that we use the word " matter'^ regardless of 
the various interpretations that may be placed upon it, 
and I venture to say that nine times out of ten, even 
those who are the most precise in the use of terms, will 
speak of matter without regard to its being an abstract 
term, and without proper weight being given to the 
different facts embraced by it. If interrupted in the 
flow of their talk, they will with great accuracy ex- 
plain what we know, but in argument the word is used 
in the most general manner. Hence often difference 
of opinion arises simply because of the shifting mean- 
ing given to the terms employed. Of course, in speak- 
ing in this way of the ambiguous use of this word, I 


refer only to philosophical discussions. In the physical 
sciences the term is employed with a special significa- 
tion, and is well understood. 

Let us return now to our subject, and apply what 
has been learned regarding matter to the motions of 
the cerebral molecules which are said to accompany 
consciousness. It is evident that in speaking of the 
molecular motions occurring in your brain I may 
refer either to the motion proper, which is my state of 
consciousness, or I may have reference to the reality 
actually occurring outside of me and belonging to you, 
and a part of you. If I refer to the former, I know 
what it is; it is my sensation. If I refer to the latter, 
the Reality, the question arises, What is it? Is it un- 
known, and if not, what is its nature? We will ap- 
proach this question in another way, which will make 
its meaning clearer. 

Let us consider these physical cerebral activities, 
and ask from a purely physical point of view what 
kind of activities they are. We have reference, of 
course, only to those activities which are supposed to 
constitute nerve-force and to underlie all conscious 
states. Suppose that by a suitable device we could 
have them presented to us objectively, so that we could 
actually recognize them, how would they appear to us? 
That would depend upon the sense we employed in 
perceiving them. We might ideally (as we do when 
thinking of them) or actually see them ; they would 
then appear as motions, oscillations, undulations, or 
some such movement. We might, by the suitable 
microphone, hear them ; they would then appear as 
musical notes. If our tactile sense were sufBciently 


developed we might feel them ; they might then ap- 
pear as heat. But none of these sensations represent 
these activities as they really are. 

Now, to put another hypothetical question, suppose, 
for a moment, that what they really are is conscious- 
ness, — that is, a thought or sensation of pain, — how 
would this sensation of pain appear to as if we could 
apprehend it through our senses, and through the sense 
of sight in particular (either, of course, ideally or in the 
brain of another) ? The answer is, Only as all other 
activities in matter appear to us, namely, as motions, 
undulations, etc. If^ then, these hypothetical conditions 
were the facts, it would be easy to understand how 
mental states can become " transformed^^ into physical 
disturbances, and vice versa, because there is no trans- 
formation about it. There would be in this case only 
one thing, mental states, which looidd appear as physical 
activities when viewed {ideally) through the senses, as 
tremors if viewed through sight. Now have we any 
reason for believing that the actual activities — these 
physical activities-in-themselves, as they really are — 
are a state of consciousness? This it shall be our effort 
to establish by a series of inferences, the only method 
of proof open to us for such a problem. If we are 
successful, it would appear that the reason for the dif- 
ficulty which has been experienced in conceiving how a 
sensation can become a physical change lies in not prop- 
erly perceiving the nature of the problem we are trying 
to solve. A great deal of thought has been devoted to 
trying to understand how molecular changes are trans- 
formed into consciousness, when in reality there is no 
transformation at all. Another source of error has 



arisen from regarding the two classes of facts — the 
physical and the mental — as two different modes of 
apprehending, or aspects of the same thing. An arti- 
ficial parallelism has thus been drawn between them 
which has only served to increase the difficulty, and 
has prevented all assimilation of one with the other. 
To this parallelism so much attention has been devoted 
that the mode by which the parallelism arises has been 
neglected and an artificial difficulty created. 

To show how much stress has been laid on this par- 
allelism and to what difficulties it leads when pushed 
to an extreme degree will require a momentary digres- 
sion. That a parallelism exists is true, but it has been 
exaggerated into a great bugbear, because there has 
not been constantly and clearly kept in mind what is 
parallel. Phenomena have been made abstractions, 
abstractions unconsciously made entities, and two lines 
sharply drawn parallel, which originate and diverge 
from the same point. 

To justify this assertion I shall refer to a very able 
writer, from whom I have had occasion to quote be- 
fore. ^'On such grounds as these,'^ says Mr. Fiske, '^I 
maintain that feeling is not a product of nerve-motion 
in anything like the sense that it is sometimes the pro- 
duct of heat, or that friction electricity is a product of 
sensible motions. Instead of entering into the dynamic 
circuit of correlative physical motions, the phenomena 
of consciousness stand outside as utterly alien and dis- 
parate phenomena. They stand outside but uniformly 
parallel to that segment of the circuit which consists 
of neural undulations. The relation between what 
goes on in consciousness and what goes oil simultane- 


ously in the nervous system may best be described as a 
relation of uniform Goncomitance, I agree with Prof. 
Huxley and Mr. Harrison that along with every act 
of consciousness there goes a molecular change in the 
substance of the brain^ involving a waste of tissue. 
This is not materialism^ nor does it alter a whit the 
position in which we were left by common sense before 
physiology was ever heard of. Everybody knows that 
so long as we live on earth the activity of mind as a 
whole is accompanied by activity of the brain as a 
whole. What nervous physiology teaches is simply 
that each particular mental act is accompanied by a 
particular cerebral act. By proving this the two sets 
of phenomena^ mental and physical, are reduced each 
to its lowest terms, but not a step is taken toward con- 
founding the one with the other. On the contrary, the 
keener our analysis the more clearly does it appear that 
the two can never be confounded. The relation of 
concomitance between them remains an ultimate and 
insoluble mystery.^' ^ 

Let us see how much truth there is in all this. On 
examining the passage critically it will be found to con- 
tain three distinct propositions : first, that states of mind 
are phenomena ; secondly, that states of mind, as feel- 
ing and neural undulations, are " utterly alien and dis- 
parate in nature;'^ thirdly, that the relation between 
them is only one of parallelism and '^ uniform concom- 
itance." Each of these propositions will require sepa- 
rate consideration. 

^ North American Keview, Jan. -Feb., 1878. The italics are 


To the first we will devote only a few words in this 
place^ as it is liable to involve us in a discussion re- 
garding terms merely. 

It may very properly be questioned whether states 
of mind recognized as subjective can be designated by 
the same terms used to characterize the physical world. 
If the former are actualities^ as I hope to be able 
to show strong grounds for believing, and the latter 
merely symbols of something else, then, though the 
latter are properly classed as phenomena, or the ap- 
pearances of things, the former should be classed as 
the thing-in-itself, or actuality, and not phenomena. 
To insist upon this exactness in the use of terms may 
appear to the reader to savor of pedantry. But it is 
not so. Though it may be of no consequence what 
terms we use so long as we bear continuously in mind 
the exact conditions which they represent, still it is 
almost impossible for even the clearest thinkers to keep 
the thing represented differentiated mentally from the 
terms representing it, and in the prolongation of an 
argument the two become unconsciously confused ; so 
that, though the premises may be exactly defined and 
true, in the conclusion and especially in corollaries and 
deductions drawn from these conclusions, errors of 
great magnitude and serious moment creep in. Just 
as a slight error at the apex of an angle may be of no 
consequence, yet with every prolongation of the sides 
the error becomes amplified. So it is with philosophic 
discussion. The history of philosophy has been the 
history of the misuse of terms. 

As to the second proposition, that the " phenomena^^ 
of consciousness are ^^ utterly alien and disparate'' from 


the phenomena of physical motions, it must rest upon 
either one or two alternatives. 

We have seen before (pp. 30-34) that physical mo- 
tions have no objective reality or existence as such out- 
side of our own minds; on the contrary, they are 
subjective sensations, similar to any other mental 
state, though they be caused by some physical change 
in actual matter, and of which they are the symbols. 
Consequently, being subjective, so far from being ut- 
terly " alien and disparate phenomena,^^ physical mo- 
tions and mental states are of exactly the same nature 
and class. If to this Mr. Fiske replies, as he un- 
doubtedly would, that he takes the other alternative, 
and means by " physical motions^^ simply to symbolize 
the unknoion physical disturbances of which motion is 
only a subjective representation, — as he must call them 
something, — then I answer that he clearly begs the 
question in asserting that they are " utterly alien and 
disparate /^ for, as he confesses that he does not know 
and cannot know what these unknown physical changes 
really are, he cannot logically assert whether they are 
or are not essentially similar to or different from the 
"phenomena'^ of consciousness. If w^e do not know 
what they are, w^hat right has any one to declare that 
both may not be of the same nature ; or, at least, do so 
without strong circumstantial evidence in favor of such 
a conclusion ? But no attempt has ever been made 
through indirect evidence to establish this conclusion. 
On the contrary, everything points the other way. To 
assert without circumstantial evidence that the two 
classes of phenomena are essentially different, is like 
maintaining that any object whatever, as this pen with 



which these lines are written, has no resemblance to 
any other object lying at the bottom of the sea, when 
we have no idea whatsoever of the object that is lying 
there, or any knowledge of the conditions by which it 
came and remains there. Nor can I reconcile this pas- 
sage with his approval of that portion of Mr. Spen- 
cer's argument quoted on pages 446-448^ vol. ii., of 
his '^ Cosmic Philosophy.'' 

It is absolutely essential that we should bear in mind at 
the outset that the physical changes which go along with 
every act of consciousness are in reality not an undula- 
tion or a motion, but an unknown X . 

This oversight, which it would appear to be, seems 
to have arisen from too close attention having been 
paid to the third proposition, or the parallelism and 
concomitance of the phenomena. That the two classes 
of facts are parallel there can be no doubt; that they 
are concomitant there can be no doubt. The same 
thing may be said of the musical note and the vibra- 
tions of the tuning-fork. They are parallel and con- 
comitant; but concomitance is not the sole relation. 
No one would think of confusing visual vibrations 
with a musical note; the contrast between them is 
sharp and defined. So no one can confuse a feeling of 
pain with the oscillation of a molecule; they are sharply 
contrasted ; but it may be shown that one is only a 
mode of cognizing the other, or rather, the former is 
the actual activity, the latter the mode by which a sec- 
ond person becomes conscious of its existence. " Can 
we, then, think of the subjective and objective activi- 
ties as the same?" asks Mr. Spencer. Looking at 
them simply as activities, and not as phenomena, I 


unhesitatingly answer^ " Yes, we can/^ ^' Can the 
oscillation of a molecule/' he continues, '^ be repre- 
sented in consciousness side by side with a psychical 
shock and the two be recognized as one? No eifort 
enables us to assimilate them. That a unit of feeling 
has nothing in common with a unit of motion becomes 
more than ever manifest when we bring the two into 
juxtaposition/^ Mr. Spencer has here misconceived 
the nature of the problem he is investigating. Such a 
question is like asking is a stone a tree, or is sound 

Whatever view he held regarding the likeness or 
unlikeness of the activities called feeling to the activi- 
ties underlying the phenomena called a table, we have 
no reason to believe they are unlike those activities 
underlying the phenomena called neural undulations, 
however different they may be made to appear by 
artificial means. 

If this reasoning be correct, the inference is justifi- 
able that too much attention has hitherto been paid to 
the phenomena themselves and too little to the activi- 
ties lying behind them. It must not be inferred from 
anything that has been said in these pages that any of 
the writers quoted have not recognized the great truths 
established by Berkeley regarding the amount that is 
subjective in that which we call matter. On the con- 
trary, in the pages of Fiske and Spencer and others 
they are reiterated over and over again. But having 
been once recognized, they are straightway overlooked 
on being put into application. This will be considered 
by some an unwarranted assertion, but I believe it to 
be borne out by the facts. 



We shall now inquire into the grounds we have for 
the suspicion that states of mind and neural activities 
are identical, and if it shall be found that the evidence 
is sufficiently strong to turn this suspicion into a con- 
viction, we shall proceed to an investigation into the 
conditions which cause them to appear so strongly 

The method which we shall employ will be the 
physiological method, as being the one most conducive 
to positive results; but the conclusions arrived at will 
then be submitted to the test of subjective analysis; 
and if they shall stand this test we shall consider that 
our theorem has been established. 

There are two propositions the acceptance of which 
is absolutely essential for any discussion of the problem 
on which we are engaged. These are : first, every state 
of consciousness has its seat in the brain (or at least in 
some part of the cerebro-spinal system); and, second, 
every such state is accompanied, as has been so frequently 
stated above, by a molecular change in the substance 
of the brain. The first of these has been so well es- 
tablished that it would be tedious to repeat the proofs 
of it here. The second has also been accepted on all 
sides by spiritualists and materialists alike. They may 
both, then, be considered as outside all matter of con- 


troversy. But now I propose to assume what will not 
be so readily granted and will even be totally denied 
by some people ; nevertheless we have a right to assume 
it if only as a basis of investigation. This is, that not 
only is every act of consciousness accompanied by a 
molecular change in the substance of the brain, but 
that the former is in some way dependent upon the 
latter, though we may not know how. This is an infer- 
ence we have a right, from a physiological stand-point, 
to make. Everything in cerebral physiology points to- 
wards it. Everything that points to the existence of 
these molecular changes and a concomitance of the two 
classes of facts — the objective and subjective — points 
to this conclusion. As physiologists we are entitled to 
employ the physical method and study both classes of 
facts objectively, and when we do so this conclusion is 
inevitably forced upon us. It would be carrying us 
too far out of our way to go into all the physiological 
facts upon which this reasoning is based ; but they may 
be summed up in the following brief statements : We 
can have no consciousness without a material substance, 
the brain, nor without the activity of the brain. In- 
jure the brain and you destroy consciousness; prevent 
the activities from going on and we have no conscious- 
ness. Excite these activities and consciousness appears. 
They appear invariably side by side. Alter the con- 
ditions of occurrence of the physical changes and an 
equivalent alteration occurs in consciousness. Change 
the quality and quantity of the physical changes by 
disease and a similar alteration of the quality and 
quantity of consciousness appears (delirium, etc.). In- 
crease the intensity and quantity of physical changes 


and a concomitant increase takes place in consciousness. 
This and much more points to a dependent relation. 

The admission of this is not a committal of opinion 
as to the nature of the dependency. It is consistent 
even with the belief in a spiritual mind, or with the 
belief that it never can be discovered how the one class 
of facts is dependent on the other. Whatever view be 
held regarding this point, from a physiological point 
of view the conclusion of dependency is justifiable and 
sound. To be sure, it cannot be established by positive 
and direct proof, and it depends upon a series of infer- 
ences for its support. But it is not for that reason to 
be discarded. How many things in this world which 
are accepted as established facts are anything more than 
inferences ? The foundations upon which the sciences 
of chemistry and physics rest are nothing but inferences. 
The boasted atom and molecule are nothing but hypo- 
thetical existences. The ethei', into disturbances of 
which light has been resolved, has only an inferential 
existence. The external world, everything about us, 
the books, the table and the chairs in this room, the 
human beings and the horses and carriages that pass the 
window, all animate and inanimate things, the world 
and the universe itself, have only an existence for us 
based on our inferences. We only know the sensations 
they produce in us; that there is any matter lying be- 
hind these sensations and the cause of them is only an 
inference, but an inference so strong that no one can 
deny the truth of it. Furthermore, it is upon a series 
of inferences similar to those upon which the depend- 
ency of mind upon matter is based that half the physi- 
ological processes of the body are established. It is 


by means of a similar series of inferences that the liver- 
cells are said to secrete bile^ the peptic cells pepsin, and 
the salivary cells saliva.^ It must also be borne in 
mind to what a large extent we are dependent upon 
inferences for most of our daily acts. We do not hesi- 
tate to convict a man and send him to the gallows, even 
though the verdict which convicted him was based on a 
series of inferences. It is only upon a series of infer- 
ences that the physician establishes his diagnosis upon 
which rests the fate of his patient, and upon inferences 
the merchant and the speculator risk their fortunes. 

Yet there are probably those who will deny the 
validity of the inference that consciousness depends on 
physical changes being induced in the cells of the brain. 
They only see parallel phenomena, with no bond of 
connection between them. What a mental act is^ how 
it is related, if at all, to the concomitant molecular 
change in the brain, is declared to be an insoluble 
mystery, and they do not advance one iota beyond the 
point where the question was left by Descartes over 
two hundred years ago. How thought can proceed in- 
variably side by side with physical change and be un- 
connected with it, be neither material nor spiritual,^ is 
difficult to understand. I confess my inability to' com- 
prehend such eclectic reasoning. If we touch a lighted 
match to a piece of paper we find it invariably burns, 

1 1 hope no one will imagine, because a simile is here employed, 
referring to the logical process, that the physiological process is 
meant, and the brain be supposed to secrete thought. 

2 Compare Mr. Fiske's assertion that his views are " not mate- 
rialism" with his argument for quasi-spiritualism in "Cosmic 
Philosophy,'' vol. ii. part iii. chap. iv. 


consequently we say the cause of the paper burning is 
the lighted match. Whenever the gastric cells are 
stimulated gastric juice is formed. We still say that 
the latter is dependent upon the former. But in the 
brain a sharp line is drawn. Though mental activity 
is invariably connected with cell activity, no dependent 
relation is admitted by some. It is difficult to appre- 
ciate the consistency in asserting the one and denying 
the other. I think we have as much reason in the one 
case as in the other, so long as we deal with physiolog- 
ical inquiries, in holding that one group of phenomena 
is dependent upon the other group, though we may not 
understand how it is so dependent. If one chooses to 
deny the validity of all causes on the ground that we 
only know sequence in time, and that the idea of cause 
and effect is only an abstraction of the mind, all well 
and good. But if cause is admitted in one case, it must 
be in the other also.^ 

It is only so long as we study the problem from a 
physiological stand-point that we observe two processes, 
— the physical and the mental. The minute we leave 
physiology we find that there are not two processes, but 
only one process, and a feeling is not strictly accompa- 
nied by a physical change. This will soon be shown. 

There is one amusing thing connected with this dis- 
cussion, and that is the readiness with which those 
who deny any relationship between the mental and 
physical phenomena seize upon the theory of a physi- 
cal substratum to consciousness and maintain the ex- 
istence of physical changes "in the substance of the 

1 It may be thought that I am arguing against imaginary ob- 
jections. If so, no harm is done. 


brain involving a waste of tissue/^ and which '' go along 
with every act of consciousness/^ This doctrine they 
maintain with a confidence that is amazing, consider- 
ing that it is entirely beyond the possibility of so called 
proof. It is in reality only theory, and supported 
merely by a series of inferences similar to those upon 
which the doctrine maintained here is based. Neither 
less nor more. And yet it is commonly stated as if it 
were an established fact, entirely beyond cavil, and 
that, too, by the very persons who refuse to recognize 
the force of a similar process of reasoning to establish 
a relationship between mental and physical phenomena. 
But I do not wish to be understood to push the ground 
from under my own feet. There is every reason to be- 
lieve that these pliysical changes do occur, and that 
they are the foundation of every doctrine of a physical 
basis of mind. But they cannot be considered as 
absolutely established, and rest simply on evidence 
similar to that for the theory advocated in these pages. 

To proceed with our argument. We have two 
classes of facts, mental and physical ; the former we 
assume^ to be dependent upon the latter. The one we 
know as thought, sensation, and emotion ; the other 
utterly unknown objectively, but represented by sym- 
bols in consciousness. What is the nature of this de- 
pendence? There are four possibilities, and four only, 
which are thinkable. 

First Consciousness may be formed, secreted, man- 
ufactured, so to speak, by the protoplasmic activity of 

1 If any one denies the validity of this assumption, but admits 
the rest of my logic, I am amply satisfied. The case is then suf- 
ficiently proved. 

c d 6 


the cells of the brain^ after the same manner that liver- 
cells secrete bile. 

Second. Consciousness may be a change in the mu- 
tual relations of the actual or real molecules of the 
protoplasm of the brain-cells; that is^ these unknown 
physical disturbances themselves^ — the protoplasmic dis- 
turbances as they really are ; the actuality of so-called 
neural undulations. It would possibly be equivalent 
to the passage of the protoplasm from a higher to a 
lower state of chemical combination, or more probably 
some physical as opposed to a chemical change, as/say, 
so-called undulations or vibrations. 

Third, It may be the essence or actuality of a second 
and parallel physical change in the protoplasm. Sup- 
posing, for example, the physical change, which enters 
into the nervous circuit, beginning at one end as irrita- 
tions, and ending at the other in muscular action, to be 
undulations in nervous matter, consciousness might then 
be the actuality of a second physical change induced by 
the parallel and concomitant physical change. 

Fourth, Consciousness may be the reality of a change 
induced by the cerebral molecules in a second substance 
pervading all matter (and therefore the brain), the 

A very little consideration will show that the first of 
these propositions is not only untenable, but may be 
reduced to an absurdity. It would not be seriously 
considered here were it not that an expression made 
use of by a German physiologist has given rise, rightly 
or wrongly, to the idea that such an explanation has 
been maintained as a doctrine of materialism. Accord- 
ing to this view, every thought must be something 


new-formed, something newly brought into existence. 
But this something must be either immaterial or mate- 
rial. In the former case^ aside from the inconceivable 
conception of a material substance manufacturing an 
immaterial or spiritual thing or entity^ it becomes 
necessary to revive the old doctrine of a supernatural or 
spiritual mind. This in itself is a sufficient objection. 
I shall have more to say in regard to it later. In the 
latter case, if this new-formed substance, a thought or 
idea is a material somethincr, it necessarilv follows that 
this secretion, for such it must be, must remain (a) in 
the brain ; or (6) be removed as such by the natural 
channels, the blood- and lymph-vessels; or (cj be de- 
composed soon after formation, leaving its resulting 
products to be removed. The objections to, or rather 
the absurdity of, all these possibilities (or impossibili- 
ties) is so obvious, that any serious discussion of them 
seems unnecessary. But it is somewhat startling to 
think of the peril in which the life of any individual, 
who boasts of an abundance of ideas, would be placed 
from the accumulation of this extraordinary secretion be- 
neath the skull. One can imagine that the effect would 
be similar to filling his head with dried peas, and then 
pumping it full of water. The sword of Damocles 
would be a mere V^agatelle compared to the danger of 
his own thouo^hts. Like a steam-encrine without a 
safety-valve, he would be the generator of the power that 
would explode himself. While if his ideas and sensa- 
tions were removed as such, by the vessels, they would 
be carried away to all parts of his body whithersoever 
the blood and lymph flowed. We might then be said 
literally to carry our ideas in our finger-tips, while our 



inner organs would once more be embellished with our 
emotions and the peculiarities of our character, — a sort 
of visceral phrenology. We might, with literal truth, 
be said to have '' bowels of compassion,'^ and to liave a 
^* heart full of feeling/' 

The third hypothesis is not so easily disposed of, and 
yet it will not be difScult to show that it is untenable. 
In the first place, it leads to the negation of conscious- 
ness as a causative factor in all our action. It makes 
consciousness superfluous, as everything could be done 
as well without consciousness as with it. Conscious- 
ness becomes the steam-whistle to the engine. This 
was shown in the first chapter. It reduces the doc- 
trine to an absurdity. 

In the second place, it is incompatible with the doc- 
trine of the correlation of forces ; for, if those physi- 
cal activities called neural vibrations enter as links in 
the dynamic circuit, which begins with the ingoing 
current and ends with the outgoing current, there is 
no link left for those activities called mental. (See 
page 16, also Chap. V.) 

In the third place, it is an unnecessary and super- 
fluous element. If consciousness could be identical 
with these second physical activities, so could it be w^ith 
the first series of activities. There is nothing in favor 
of the former that does not speak for the latter, which 
are included in the second hypothesis. 

The fourth proposition,^ that mind is the Reality of 

1 1 scarcely imagined when this chapter was written, some 
eight or nine years ago, that those unknoivyi activities, repre- 
sented to us objectively as the ether, would ever be seriously pro- 
posed as an explanation of the nature of mind, and much less 


a molecular change transmitted to the ether, is also one 
which cannot be maintained. It is open to every ob- 
jection to which the third is subject. These objections 
are fatal to it. As with the second activities so with 
the ether. We gain nothing by transferring this dis- 
turbance to a second substance, about which we know 

that the ether in its material aspect would be so made use of. 
But such seems to have been the case. Dr. Maudsley, in a work 
lately published (Body and Will, Kegan, Paul & Co., 1883), 
utilizes the ether as a means of bridging over the conventional 
chasm between mind and matter, and as explaining what mind 
is. "Perhaps . . . the theory of an all-pervading mentiferous 
ether," he says, " may help to bridge over the difficulty. Por 
if the object and the brain are alike pervaded by such a hyper- 
subtile ether; and if the impressions which the particular object 
makes upon the mind be then a sort of pattern of the mentifer- 
ous undulations as they are stirred and conditioned within it by 
its particular form and properties ; and if the tnind in turn be the 
mentiferous undidations [italics are mine] as conditioned by the 
convoluted form and the exceedingly complicated and delicate 
structure of the brain; then it is plain that we have eluded the 
impassable difficulty of conceiving the action of mind upon 
matter — the material upon the immaterial — which results from 
the notion of their entirely different natures. Here, in fact, is a 
theory that gets rid at the same time of the gross materiality of 
matter and of the intangible spiritualities of mind, and instead of 
binding them together in an abhorred and unnatural union of 
opposites, unites them in a happy and congenial marriage in an 
intermediate substance, — a substance which, mediator-like, par- 
takes of the nature of both without being exclusively either." 
The fallacies, only out of respect for Dr. Maudsley's ability I 
do not say absurdities, of such an hypothesis must be apparent 
to the reader who has followed me thus far. The fact that such 
a crude notion could be seriously entertained by a writer having 
such a special knowledge of the subject as Dr. Maudsley, shows 
how little understood must be even the nature of the problem 
with which we are dealing. 


scarcely anything, save a certain amount of mystery, 
while we break the Newtonian canon, forbidding us to 
postulate new causes before proving the inadequacy of 
existing ones. If consciousness can be produced by 
atoms of ether, in a state of change, why cannot it be 
done by atoms of protoplasm under similar conditions? 
Furthermore, the introduction of a new factor brings 
with it new difficulties which are quite as troublesome 
to explain. For instance, it is very difficult to under- 
stand how changes in a homogeneous substance, such 
as we must understand the ether to be, can give rise to 
the multitude of heterogeneous ideas and sensations of 
which the human mind is possessed, unless there be a 
different kind of change for every species of mental 
progress ; a most improbable, if not impossible, assump- 
tion. But, supposing it to be the case, these heteroge- 
neous disturbances of the ether must be indicated by 
corresponding changes in the protoplasm of the brain ; 
in which case the etber, from a logical point of view, 
would be an entirely unnecessary factor, and hence 
there is no necessity for introducing it as an element in 
the problem. 

We are left, then, with the second hypothesis, against 
which none of the objections to the others obtain. Ac- 
cording to this, consciousness is the unknown cerebral 
activities underlying the phenomena which we call 
neural disturbances or motions. It may be called an 
alteration in the temporary conditions under which the 
Realities of the atoms of protoplasm of the brain exist. 
Consciousness is the supposed ^^ unknown'^ disturbances 
X, which in this case are known to us. It is the actual 
physical change as it really occurs, not as it appears 


to US objectively. It may be called the essence of 
physical change in cerebral protoplasm. In other 
words, a mental state and those physical changes which 
are known in the objective world as neural undulations 
are one and the same thing, but the former is the 

SON/ — ix,, to the non-possessor of it. 

Having arrived at this apparently paradoxical con- 
clusion, the task still remains to us to explain the sole 
objection which can be urged against it, and this is : 
How does it happen that cerebral activity or conscious- 
ness can be presented to us under such strongly con- 
trasted forms? This will be considered by some per- 
sons to be the same thing as the original problem. How 
physical changes or matter becomes transformed into 
consciousness; but with the foregoing presentation of 
the problem it has assumed another aspect. The real 
question is, not regarding the transformation of matter 
into mind, but how one state of consciousness comes 
to be perceived as another state of consciousness, or how a 
subjective fact comes to be perceived as an objective 
fact ; how a feeling comes to be presented to us as a 

Unless this can be satisfactorily answered, the con- 
clusion at which we have just arrived cannot claim ac- 
ceptance. For this purpose it will be necessary to 
submit it to subjective analysis, as was promised at the 
outset; and after this has been done, if we find that 

^ It is not sufficiently exact to say that both are different modes 
of apprehending one and the same thing, for that implies that 
neither is the actuality. See Chapter lY. 


there is no real contradiction, we shall consider that 
our theorem has been established. 

For those who are accustomed to think on such mat- 
ters what has already been said in the last chapter will 
be sufficient, and they will see at once that there is no 
real difficulty; but for the majority of readers some 
further explanation will be necessary. 

Whether the explanation which has already been 
suggested, and will now be offered with more detail, 
will prove as satisfactory to others as to the writer re- 
mains to be seen. The confidence of the writer in its 
adequacy and correctness is naturally strengthened by 
the fact that though arrived at independently by him 
many years ago, it is in many points similar to that 
originally offered by Mr. Lewes, to whom the credit is 
due for having been the first to really perceive the true 
nature of the problem. It almost seems, if the reason- 
ing here employed is correct, as if Mr. Lewes, however, 
had missed the point of his argument, for he expresses 
his conclusions in terms which do not seem to the writer 
to be applicable. He considers the difference between 
the mental and the physical processes to be one of 
aspects, and to be dependent upon the difference in the 
modes of apprehension. My objection to this mode of 
expressing the relationship will be given later. The 
difference between us may be only one of terms ; but 
as Mr. Lewes himself has most rigorously insisted on 
the necessity of precision in the use of terms, I have 
less hesitation in calling attention to the distinction.^ 

1 The late Prof. Clifford is the only writer, so far as I know, 
whose views on the relation of the mind to matter thoroughly 
coincide with those herein expressed. 


It may at first sight appear impossible that these 
physical phenomena, with which we are familiar, as 
motion, undulations, or what you will, can also appear 
as states of consciousness. But this is because in our 
daily experience we are apt to overlook the well-known 
fact, which has been sufficiently explained in the pre- 
ceding chapter, that all those properties with which 
we endow matter have no objective existence, but are 
only subjective states called sensations, and hence forms 
of consciousness, and these are symbolic only of the 
unknown chana;e occurrincr in matter. Just as the 
words written on this page are symbolic of the ideas 
they represent, but are as unlike as possible the ideas 
themselves. Any sensation, such as light, is a repre- 
sentation in consciousness of physical changes in matter 
outside the brain, but gives us no idea what those 
changes are. A sensation is related to its physical ex- 
ternal cause as the dent in the hot iron is to the blow of 
the blacksmith's hammer that fashions it. The true 
nature of a physical change in a foreign body — a piece 
of iron, for example — is absolutely beyond our range 
of comprehension. A physical change in my brain is 
an idea, my idea. To you, could you in some way be- 
come conscious of it, it would appear only like any 
other physical phenomenon, — as, for instance, a vibra- 
tion, — being only symbolized in your consciousness; 
and when you ideally conceive it, it is not the idea 
itself which you are conscious of, but the disturbance 
in your brain in the form of a sensation, and this 
you characterize as a physical phenomenon, and locate 
in mine. So that a disturbance in my brain which I 
experience as an idea of an orange, you ideally experi- 


ence as a physical phenomenon in the form of a neural 
undulation or some similar (objective) sensation. 

Let us take a concrete example. We will imagine 
that you have a sensation of pain presented to your 
mind; we will also picture to ourselves a physical 
process in your brain in the form of neural vibrations. 
Now these two — the mental and physical — are usually 
described as two processes, both of which occur some- 
how in you. They are said to take place synchronously, 
and one is the correlate of the other. But this is not 
the correct way of putting it. We will suppose now, 
further, I could apply a microscope to your brain and 
watch the cells (as I can ideally) when this pain is felt 
by you. What now would happen ? At the moment 
when you have the sensation of pain I become conscious 
of neural vibrations, which I locate as such (but errone- 
ously) in your brain-cells. The real activities in you 
are pain, not neural vibrations. The reason for this is 
this : your mental process, the pain, acting upon my 
retina sets up a process in me, and as this process of 
mine is excited through my organ of vision, I am af- 
fected according to the physiological laws of this organ 
and become conscious of neural vibrations. These 
neural vibrations I erroneously locate in you while they 
really are parts of my consciousness, and the only thing 
which occurs in you is the feeling of pain. The reac- 
tion of my brain to your feeling is a sensation of vibra- 
tions. The only way in which these activities could be 
apprehended by me is objectively as neural vibrations. 
The only way in which they can be brought into your 
consciousness is as the sensation of pain. But, in fact, 
it is one process in you, the sensation of pain, which is 


the real activity. Here, then, lies the parallelism of 
the phenomena : your consciousness or pain is the cor- 
relate of my apprehension of this consciousness as neu- 
ral vibration. The parallelism is between your Gonscious- 
ness and my consoiousness of your consciousness , or, what 
is the same thing, between the consciousness in you and the 
picture in my mind of neural vibrations. The former is 
the reality, the latter the symbol of it. There is an 
invariable concomitance of these facts. 

Again, under the hypothetical conditions stated 
above, I cannot become conscious of your physical 
changes or process in its true form, the sensation of 
pain, for that which I become conscious of is the effect 
which this physical process produces in my brain, the 
reaction of my brain to it, as a sensation of neural 
vibrations. To be sure, I can conjure up the sen- 
sation of pain by allowing my mind to dwell on it, 
and produce in this way a so-called imaginary pain ; 
but this is an entirely different thing. In that 
case there would be no relation between my mental 
state of pain and your mental state, which I am endeav- 
oring to become conscious of. So you can picture to 
yourself neural vibrations as well as I, and perceive 
them as objective phenomena. But here, too, the con- 
ditions are altered, and we have to do not with a mental 
process and its correlated neural process, but with a 
physical process ideally projected outside of your cere- 
brum, and a symbolic representation of it as neural 
vibrations in your mind. 

It is no objection to this statement of the nature of 
the parallelism to say that there is something more 
than a parallelism between your consciousness and my 


mode of becoming conscious of your consciousness, be- 
cause you can have both consciousness as pain and a 
picture of neural vibrations supposed to occur side by 
side with the former, for this amounts to the same 
thing. For when you conceive of correlated neural 
processes in your brain you in reality have gone 
through the following logical process : you first have 
perceived hypothetical physical disturbances in some 
one else's brain, and these you have recognized as 
neural vibrations. Then you have inferred that they 
occur invariably side by side with the consciousness of 
the individual. Having determined this, you ideally 
abstract them, transfer them to your own brain, and 
infer that they occur there under similar conditions. 
This is the same thing as if a second individual had 
been the object of your study. Then it follows that 
when you think of physical changes in the protoplasm 
of your brain you ideally abstract and project them 
outside of you, and then ideally become conscious of 
the effect which they produce on your mind, namely, 
the sensation of vibrations ; but this effect is entirely 
distinct in character from, though correlative with, the 
ideas which are the realities. 

Physical changes occurring in a foreign body, as a 
piece of iron, though giving us our experience of it, must 
be absolutely unknown to us. Physical changes occur- 
ring in our brains are clearly known to us; they are our 
thoughts, our sensations^ and our emotions. 



Feom this point of view it is plainly evident how 
barren must be the question, What is the ultimate 
nature of mind? when by it is meant a desire to go 
behind tiie facts of consciousness. The very question 
involves an absurdity. We all know what mind is by 
direct consciousness. Mind is mind and that is the 
end of it. When we step on a needle and feel pain 
we know what pain is; and if we could resolve it into 
a dozen physical elements, such as vibrations among 
those molecules which make up the protoplasm of the 
brain-cells, it would give us no new information on 
the nature of pain. Those vibrations are not pain, 
but every one knows what pain is. When we are 
angry with any one for an injury done us, or feel sor- 
row at the death of a friend, we know what sorrow 
and anger are. The mere consciousness of these emo- 
tions is sufficient. So we all know what the idea of a 
horse is. When we say these different mental states 
are molecular vibrations in nervous matter, it is, as 
Lewes has well pointed out, a mere artifice to enable 
us to study the conditions under which these states of 
consciousness are generated. This artifice is of inesti- 
mable value ; but the fact must never be lost sight of 
that it is an artifice, and the artifice must never be con- 

6 61 


founded with the reality^ which is the mental state. 
When the physicist declares that light is a vibration 
of the ether, and the chemist that sulphate of iron is 
green and sulphide of lead is black, both make use of 
a similar artifice, and endow matter with properties 
which exist only in their own minds. This is a device 
which is not only justifiable but necessary for the study 
of nature and the progress of science. In no other 
way could we examine the conditions under which 
phenomena exist, and determine relations of difference 
and agreement, in which all knowledge of the objec- 
tive world consists. It is so with the study of mind 
when we employ the physiological method. When we 
study mental states as physical conditions we use the 
physiological method ; but when we inquire into the 
ultimate nature of things, and desire to know more of 
mind than is furnished by consciousness, we fail to 
bear in mind what knowing a thing consists in. 
When we ask what water is, the chemist tells us it 
is composed of hydrogen and oxygen. But hydrogen 
and oxygen are not water : it is only when they are 
chemically united that we have water, and then we 
have hydrogen and oxygen as such no longer. When 
we ask what sound is, the physicist says it is the vibra- 
tion of air. But have we now any more intimate 
knowledge of its essential nature? On the contrary, 
sound is the sensation which is the effect of certain 
unknown disturbances in matter acting on our audi- 
tory apparatus; and when we describe these disturb- 
ances as vibrations we artificially make them appear to 
us through sight, and simply transfer them from terms 
of one sense into those of another. W^e seem to know 


them better because the sensations of sight are usually 
more vivid and complex than those of sound. It is 
the same with heat. Neither sound nor vibrations nor 
heat are the real disturbances. These must be for- 
ever unknown to us. Knowing the nature of a thing, 
then, in the objective world merely consists in trans- 
lating the terms of perception from those of one sense 
into those of another, or into different terms of the 
same sense. How, then, can we have a more intimate 
knowledge of the nature of mind by saying it is neural 
vibrations? We might, by means of an extraordhmrily 
delicate microphone, listen to the murmur of the mole- 
cules as they jingle against one another in the myriads 
of cells of the brain. In that case it might be said 
that mind was a musical note. Actual feeling is not 
molecular vibration, though it may be presented to our 
senses as such ; but there is no objection to our using 
physical terms to describe states of consciousness if we 
keep in mind the object we have in view, any more 
than there is to the physicist's using terms of sight to 
describe phenomena of sound. In both cases they 
answer the same purposes. 

But further, let us suppose that these physical dis- 
turbances could be shown to be vibrations in nervous 
protoplasms, and that we could actually see them under 
the microscope. Would we now have any better 
knowledge of the ultimate nature of mind than at 
present, — aside from the fact, of course, of the physical 
motions having been demonstrated ? I hold not. Why 
should the seeker after the ultimate nature of things be 
content to rest satisfied with these? He should logi- 
cally ask, ^VWhat is the ultimate nature of vibrations ?'' 


and the answer to this would bring him back again to 
where he started, for he would be told that they were 
mind. Consciousness I conceive to be an ultimate, at 
least as far as physical processes are concerned, and 
hence the question as to its further ultimate nature 
must be an absurdity. This point, as well as the sub- 
ject-matter of the last chapter, has been dwelt upon 
at the expense of considerable repetition because of the 
importance of clearly recognizing what we mean by 
mind. When thus viewed, we get rid of the diflSculty 
of conceiving how a mental and a physical process can 
be one and the same thing, and how a transition is 
effected between the physical change in the body and 
the subjective world of thought, — the passage between 
mind and body. This has been a difficulty which lias 
been a stumbling-block in the way of all schools of 
philosophy, both spiritual and material. It matters 
not whether mind be a spirit or a manifestation of 
matter, the difficulty has been found the same. This 
has already been pointed out. Even so advanced a 
writer as Dr. Carpenter, a writer of the physiological 
school, makes this admission. ^^Now in what way,'' 
he says, '^ the physical ohdiUgQ thus excited in the sen- 
sorium is translated, so to speak, into that psychical 
change which we call seeing the object whose image was 
found upon our retina, we know nothing whatever.'' ^ 
Ferrier recognizes a similar puzzle, but just misses 
grasping what, I think, must eventually be recognized 
as the true solution. 

^' But how it is that molecular changes in the brain- 

1 Mental Physiology, p. 13. 


cells coincide with modifications of consciousness ; how, 
for instance, the vibrations of light falling on the retina 
excite the modifications of consciousness termed a visual 
sensation is a problem which cannot be solved. We 
may succeed in determining the exact nature of the 
molecular changes which occur in the brain-cells when 
a sensation is experienced, but this will not bring us 
one whit nearer the ultimate nature of that which con- 
stitutes the sensation. The one is objective, the other 
subjective, and neither can be expressed in terms of the 
other. We cannot say that they are identical^ or even 
that the one passes into the other ; but only as Lay cock 
expresses it, that the two are correlated, or with Bain, 
that the physical changes and the psychical modifica- 
tions are the objective and subjective sides of a double- 
faced unity .^^ ^ Even such an extreme materialist as 
Biichner, who has been more soundly abused for his 
writings than any other materialist of the age by 
people, who either could not, or more generally would 
not, understand him, does not even attempt to explain 
the connection between mind and matter. He contents 
himself with merely stating the existence of the con- 
nection. This connection becomes apparent now that 
the problem is found really to be not how molecular 
changes become transformed into consciousness, but 
how consciousness comes to be apprehended as physical 
changes. If the views that have been advocated above 
are accepted, this can readily be understood. It must 
be distinctly understood that it is not a question of 
translation or transformation at all, but of identification. 

^ The Functions of the Brain, 1876. The italics are mine. 
e 6^ 


Physical changes are not transformed into states of 
consciousness, nor are there "two processes^^ which oc- 
cur " side by side" in the same person. There is only 
one process. 

The common expression that " every state of con- 
sciousness is accompanied with a molecular change in 
the substance of the brain/^ which was for the sake 
of argument provisionally accepted in the preceding 
pages, must be regarded as unfounded and as leading to 
great confusion and misconception, A feeling is not ac- 
companied by a molecular change in the same brain; it is 
" the reality itself of that change.'^ You may say, if you 
prefer, that a feeling in you may be ideally perceived 
by me as a molecular change, or that your feeling is 
ideally accompanied by my notion of molecular changes. 
But you cannot correctly say that a feeling is accompanied 
by a molecular change in the same organism, because this 
implies two distinct existences and leads to all the fallacies 
of materialism, 

" It is not only inconceivable/' writes Mr. Fisko, 
" how mind should have been produced from matter, 
but it is inconceivable that it should have been produced 
from matter, unless matter possessed already the attri- 
butes of mind in embryo, an alternative which it is 
diflScult to invest with any real meaning." ^ 

Here we have a capital illustration of the ambiguous 
use of the word matter; for when we clearly define to 
ourselves in which sense we employ the term the diffi- 
culty vanishes. Does Mr. Fiske here refer to sub- 
jective, actual, or phenomenal matter?^ Not, cer- 

1 North Am. Kev., Jan.-Feb., 1878. ^ gee page 33. 


tainly, to the first, for subjective matter being a form of 
mind the statement loses all force, as it becomes equiva- 
lent to saying that mind could not have been produced^ 
from mind. 

If by matter is meant phenomenal matter, the propo- 
sition is undoubtedly correct, for phenomenal matter, 
being only the product of an artifice, has no real ex- 
istence. But with this admission it is difficult to see 
much point to the statement, as I do not know as any 
one has ever imagined that phenomenal matter could 
produce mind. The supposition is mere nonsense, 
being equivalent to saying that something which does 
not exist can produce something that does. 
* Finally, if by matter Mr. Fiske has in mind the 
notion of actual matter, then the proposition assumes 
an intelligible meaning, but at the same time can 
readily be shown to be untrue. By actual matter we 
mean the unknown reality underlying phenomena, the 
thing-in-itself. It comprises all those unknown forces 
or activities which constitute the essence of the uni- 
verse. If it is unknown, then we certainly are pre- 
cluded from setting limitations to its possibilities. It 
may be inconceivable hoio mind should have been pro- 
duced from this great unknown universe, because such 
a conception would require an intimate knowledge of 
the nature of that which, by its very definition, is un- 
known. But, on the other hand, nothing forbids our 
conceiving ^to mind should be produced from such a 
universe ; and the alternative, that in this case matter 
must have possessed the attributes of mind in embryo, 
instead of being devoid of meaning, becomes invested 
with the deepest signification. It is not only possible, 


but in the highest degree probable, that those activities, 
the sum of which we call consciousness, are of a kindred 
nature to those activities which are the reality of phe- 
nomenal matter. Just as organic matter is made up 
of the same physical atoms and molecules which make 
up inorganic matter, combined and recombined in vary- 
ing proportions, so there is every reason to believe that 
states of consciousness are the resultant of the coaibi- 
nation and recombination of the elementary activities 
which are the realities of the physical atoms and mole- 
cules. The atom of hydrogen is the same, whether it 
occur in a free state by itself or combined with two 
atoms of oxygen in the form of water, or with a great 
many other atoms of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and 
hydrogen in the living organic substance called proto- 
plasm ; and there is also every reason to believe that 
the '* force/^ if we may employ a term which derives its 
signification from our experience to denote that of which 
we have no experience, — there is every reason to be- 
lieve, I say, that the force, which is the reality of the 
hydrogen atom, is the same whether that atom be in a 
free state, or in water, or in living protoplasm. 
Further, as the different combinations of the forces or 
Realities lying behind the atoms of inorganic substances 
exhibit themselves in the varying properties of such 
substances, so the various and more complicated combi- 
nations of the same forces in living protoplasm exhibit 
themselves in its properties or vital functions. By a 
still further combination of the activities underlying 
the properties of the simplest form of living substance, 
a lump of protoplasm, and manifesting themselves in 
its vital functions, the primitive germs of consciousness 


arise, and we obtain for the first time a glimpse of what 
these forces of the unknown universe may be.^ All 
higher states of consciousness are but combinations of 
the simpler forms. 

^ This identification of the Reality of matter with the elements 
of consciousness was clearly recognized hy Clifford, and set forth 
by him with that brilliant felicity of expression and clearness of 
conception which was pre-eminently his. 

This Reality he calls mind-stuff. "That element," he says, 
"of which, as we have seen, even the simplest feeling is a com- 
plex, I shall call mind-stuff. A moving molecule of inorganic 
matter does not possess mind or consciousness ; but it possesses a 
small piece of mind-stuff. When molecules are so combined to- 
gether as to form a film on the under side of a jelly-fish, the ele- 
ments of mind-stuff which go along with them are so combined 
as to form the faint beginnings of sentience." Again; "The 
universe, then, consists entirely of mind-stuff. Some of this is 
woven into the complex form of human minds containing im- 
perfect representations of the mind-stuff' outside of them, and of 
themselves, as a mirror reflects its own image in another mirror 
ad infinitwn. Such an imperfect representation is called a ma- 
terial universe. It is a picture in a man's mind of the real uni- 
verse of mind-stuff. The two chief points of this doctrine may 
be thus summed up : 

" Matter is a mental picture in which mind-stuff is the thing, 

"Reason, intelligence, volition are properties of a complex 
which is made up of elements themselves not rational not intel- 
ligent, not conscious." Thing s-in-themselves. 

Mr. Spencer seems also to have come round to this idea, and 
clearly expressed it in a late article, which has given rise to con- 
siderable discussion. "Consequently," he says, "the final out- 
come of that speculation con^menced by the primitive man is 
that the power manifested throughout the universe distinguished 
as material, is the same power which in ourselves wells up under 
the form of consciousness." — Religion — a Retrospect and Pros- 
pect. Nineteenth Century j Jan., 1884. 


Thus it becomes intelligible how matter, meaning 
thereby actual matter, may possess the '' attributes of 
mind in embryo/^ But such use of language is meta- 
phorical, and is justifiable only on the recognition of 
the fact that it is metaphor we are using. 

But after admitting that consciousness is the reality 
of physical processes, the question may be asked ; Is 
there still something more underlying consciousness, 
some substance of which consciousness may be (as Mr. 
Spencer holds) a mode or manifestation ? Mr. Spencer's 
view, I take it, is that consciousness is not the reality 
of physical processes, but an aspect or manifestation of 
this reality. This reality he then calls the substance 
of mind, and argues that it is the unknown. 

I confess that after a careful and patient study of 
Mr. Spencer's arguments I am unable to admit their 

Grant the existence of this substance of mind, and 
it necessarily follows, as he has so ably argued, that we 
can know nothing of it. But what is this hypothetical 
^' Substance of mind,^^ and what are its relations, on the 
one hand, to the cerebral vibrations which '^ underlie 
thought,^' and, on the other, to Thought itself? The 
minute we ask these questions and seek for answers that 
will enable us to form a clear conception of what sort 
of part this substance is supposed to play, its mystic 
nature at once becomes apparent. For any hypothesis 
to be comprehensive and satisfactory it is essential 
that we should be able to form a definite and clear 
picture in our minds of the conditions which we sup- 
pose to be present, but I doubt very much whether 
any one can form such a picture from Mr. Spencer's 


exposition of the subject^ whatever Mr. Spencer's own 
condition of mind may be. Nay, more, I do not see 
how different passages in his writings can be reconciled 
one wath another. 

In the first place, what evidence can be adduced in 
favor of this Substance. '' Let us yield,^^ he says, ^' to 
the necessity of regarding impressions and ideas as 
forms or modes of a continually existing something. 
Failing in every effort to break the series of impres- 
sions and ideas in two, we are prevented from think- 
ing of them as separate existences. While each par- 
ticular impression or idea can be absent, that which 
holds impression and ideas together is never absent, 
and its unceasing presence necessitates, or indeed con- 
stitutes, the notion of continuous existence or reality.'' 

I am unable to see in this more than a subtle play- 
ing with thought, if not with words. Admitting tliat 
while consciousness is present we cannot have an idea 
or impression isolated from every other idea or impres- 
sion, which is, I presume, what is meant by failure 
to break the series in two, I fail to see this logical 
necessity which compels us to thus look upon ideas 
as '^ modes of a continually existing something'' and 
which prevents us from regarding them as separate 
existences ; or at any rate, whether we do the latter or 
not depends upon what is meant by existence, a ques- 
tion which, if entered into here, would prolong too far 
this discussion already grown to great length. The 
argument also contains a manifest petitio principii, 
" That which holds impressions and ideas together is 
never absent," it is said. This can only be asserted 
on the assumption that there is something more than 


and in addition to consciousness^ which holds every 
state of consciousness together. But the only proof 
of this is the assertion^ or a possible inference from 
our failure ^^to break the series of ideas and impres- 
sions in two f an inference which ignores all other pos- 
sible exphinations. The existence of this substance of 
mind is first assumed, and then said never to be absent. 
It would not be irrelevant to ask what becomes of this 
substance during sleep and similar states of uncon- 
sciousness, and how it is known that here it is not ab- 
sent. When we analyze our thoughts, we find that we 
know only successive and coexisting states of conscious- 
ness, — nothing more, — and though we may infer there 
is something more underlying them and holding them 
together, such a conclusion would be an inference which 
may or may not be true, and, as Mr. Spencer argues, 
we can know nothing about its nature whatsoever. It 
seems somewhat strange, then, that Mr. Spencer should 
assume that, "by the definition, it [the substance of 
mind] is that which undergoes the modification pro- 
ducing a state of mind.^^ For, as we can know nothing 
about it, it would seem evident that we cannot know 
whether or not it is capable of "undergoing a modifi- 
cation.^^ This seems a curious assumption regarding 
the qualities of a thing which it is one's endeavor to 
show is absolutely unknowable, which Mr. Spencer 
proceeds to do. 

But admitting the existence of this substance of 
mind, what is it, and what are its relations to states 
of consciousness and to the physical vibrations of the 
brain? At first sight it would seem — and this inter- 
pretation is most in harmony with other passages in 


Mr. Spencer's writings — that the substance of mind is 
identified with the Unknown Reality lying behind the 
phenomena of physical motion ; so that this great 
Unknown '' Force^^ is capable of being presented to 
our consciousness under two forms; namely, when 
viewed through the senses as physical vibrations, when 
otherwise viewed {hoiof) as states of consciousness ; but 
in either case the Reality always remains unknown. 
This seems to be clearly enough meant in the passage, 
" For what is objectively a change in a superior nerve- 
centre is subjectively a feeling, and the duration under 
the one aspect measures the duration of it under the 
other.^^ ^ And again in the passage, "When with 
these conclusions that matter and motion, as we think 
them, are but symbols of unknowable forms of exist- 
ence, we join the conclusion lately reached that mind 
also is unknowable, and that the simplest form under 
which we can think of its substance is but a symbol of 
something that can never be rendered into thought; 
we see that the whole question is at least nothing more 
than the question whether these symbols should be ex- 
pressed in terms of those, or those in terms of these, a 
question scarcely worth deciding, since either answer 
leaves us as completely outside the reality as we were 
at first.'^ ^ This view of the case is essentially the same 
as that which was held by Lewes. 

The objections to regarding states of consciousness as a 
mode of apprehending or as symbols of an Unknown 
Substance will be presently given. I may briefly say 
here that any such conception makes the relation be- 

1 Loc. cit. 2 Op. cit , p. 159. 

D 7 


tween the states of consciousness we call cerebral motions 
(subjective matter) and the Unknown Reality (actual 
matter) similar to the relation between that conscious- 
ness which is said to be correlated with those motions 
and this same Unknown Reality^ which is impossible. 

But, on the other hand, if this be the intent of Mr. 
Spencer's position, why should consciousness be re- 
garded as a mode or manifestation of the substance of 
mind ? As has been said, this substance being something 
far beyond the possibility of our knowledge, we cannot 
even say it is capable of having modes or manifestation. 

The radical distinction between Mr. Spencer's po- 
sition and mine is this : He supposes an unknown 
Reality, which, when apprehended through the senses, 
is recognized as physical motions, but which, after 
having undergone certain modifications, becomes known 
as mind. (How ?) 

The view here maintained is that every state of 
consciousness is not a " mode or manifestation'' of an 
unknown Reality, but is the Reality itself, which is 
therefore known, and which becomes recognized as a 
physical motion of some kind when apprehended by a 
second person through the senses. 

Mr. Spencer's views have led him to the conclusion 
that ^^ Though mind and nervous action are the sub- 
jective and objective faces of the same thing, we re- 
main utterly incapable of seeing and even imagining 
how the two are related." On the other hand, the 
views here maintained show clearly and satisfactorily 
how the two are related. 

Mr. Spencer describes consciousness indifferently as 
" modes or manifestations," '^ symbols," and " aspects" 


of an underlying substance. But no such language 
can be used to describe the conditions we have endeav- 
ored to prove. 

In only one sense can there be said to be an Un- 
known Substance of Mind, and this we can arrive at 
only by objective inquiry. The molecular motions 
which correspond to any state of consciousness take 
place in a very highly organized substance, the proto- 
plasm of the brain-cells. Now this substance is of a 
very complex composition, being made up of a very 
great number of atoms of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, 
and oxygen. But to each atom there is a correspond- 
ing unknown '^ force,^^ which is the Reality of it, while 
the Reality of a molecule of protoplasm may be re- 
garded as the result of the combination of Realities 
of the atoms. Going further, whether we adopt the 
vortex theory of Thompson or not, as there is reason 
to believe the atoms of different chemical elements 
are compounds of some simpler substance, which for 
the sake of illustration we may call hydrogen, so the 
Realities of these different chemical atoms will be the 
combination in varying proportions of the centres of 
force lying behind the hydrogen atom. The Reality, 
then, which is the unknown ^' force'^ lying behind and 
corresponding to that group of sensations we call a 
molecule of cerebral protoplasm, will be a compound 
of the Realities of its ingredient atoms, which in turn 
are a compound of the Reality of the primitive (hydro- 
gen ?) atom. 

Now as the interaction of the Realities of the proto- 
plasmic molecules constitutes consciousness, we may 
imagine different states or kinds of consciousness to 


correspond to the interaction of varying groups of 
molecules of the same or different chemical compo- 
sition, these molecules being contained in a varying 
number of cells of the brain. 

The Reality^ then^ of the molecule of protoplasm in 
contradistinction to the Reality of the interaction of 
the molecules might in this sense be regarded as the 
substance of mind, though the same process of reason- 
ing would compel us, perhaps, not to rest here, but to 
continue our analysis until we had arrived at the reality 
or force underlying the group of sensations called the 
atom of hydrogen, or whatever the primitive substance 
may be. This would then be the Substance of Mind. 

This, brings us to another matter which has already 
been touched upon, but on which it was promised that 
something more would be said. I refer to the matter 
of ^^ Aspects.^^ We have seen how physical processes 
and consciousness have been spoken of by some as dual 
properties of matter. So, in the same way, conscious- 
ness is often referred to, so far as the reality is concerned, 
as facts of the same order as physical processes; that 
is, as " phenomena'^ and '' symbols of the unknown.^^ 
Thus, to requote Mr. Spencer : '' When with these 
conclusions, that matter and motion, as we think them, 
are but symbols of unknowable forms of existence, we 
join the conclusion lately reached, that mind also is un- 
knowable, and that the simplest form under which we 
can think of its substance is but a symbol of something 
that can never be rendered into thought, we see that 
the whole question is at least nothing more than the 
question whether these symbols should be expressed in 
terms of those, or those in terms of these, — a question 


scarcely worth deciding, since either answer leaves us 
as completely outside of the reality as we were at first/^ ^ 

Now it may very properly be questioned whether a 
state of mind, as a feeling, can be conceived of as a 
symbol of its own substance. We can say an idea of 
anything external to us, as of a tree, is only a symbol 
of the actual something which exists there ; for the idea 
of a tree is only the effect which the actual object pro- 
duces on the mind, just as the impression in wax of a 
seal is a representation or symbol of the seal ; or better, 
as the printed word is a symbol of the idea it repre- 
sents, but, as a printed form, has nothing in common 
with that idea. 

But in this case there are required and present two 
things, — one, the something to be symbolized, the tree- 
in-itself, and the other, the something in which the 
symbol is to be formed, the mind, and one is distinct 
from the other. But for a state of mind to be a symbol 
of its own substance, it is requisite that this particular 
state of mind should have an existence separate from 
that underlying substance, or, in other words, separate 
from itself. Otherwise the state of mind could not be 
acted upon by the substance. But if it is separate, it 
is a distinct entity, and then this underlying something 
cannot be the substance of mind. In brief, to quote 
Mr. Spencer himself in another connection, " A thing 
cannot at the same instant be both subject and object 
of thought, and yet the substance of mind must be this 
before it" can be both the symbol and the thing sym- 

Whatever view be taken regarding the existence and 

iQp. cit., p. 159. 


nature of a something underlying consciousness, it is 
quite evident that the latter cannot be regarded as facts 
of the same order as its "accompanying'^ physical 
changes, as is done when both are regarded as symbols 
of something else. 

This same looseness of thought and language has led 
to physical and mental processes being regarded as 
diflFerent "aspects^^ of the same thing. 

Even so acute a thinker as Mr. Lewes has described 
mind and physical changes as different " aspects of one 
and the same process.'^ This cannot be the correct 
conception, for it also makes matter and feeling facts 
of the same order. If mind and matter are to be re- 
garded as " aspects/' it must be that either they are 
aspects of each other or of a third thing, as of Spencer's 
substance of mind. 

In the former case matter might be regarded as an 
aspect of mind, but mind cannot be imagined as an 
aspect of matter, as appears to be meant when Lewes 
says, " a mental process is only another aspect of a 
physical process."^ Now a physical process may cer- 
tainly be looked upon as an aspect of- a mental process, 
because it is the effect of the mental process on another 
organism, but the mental process being the actuality of 
the physical process, — the physical process in itself, — 
there is nothing for it to be an effect or aspect of. 
What has been said in regard to the conception of 
mind as a symbol is equally applicable here. 

Under the second alternative, that they are different 
aspects of an underlying substance, physical processes 
may also be aspects, but mental processes not. For, 

1 Physical Basis of Mind, p. 886. 


io order that the latter may be an aspect of this sub- 
stance, there must be another substance or mind on 
which the underlying substance can work to produce 
the effect or aspect called consciousness. But where is 
there such another substance? We each of us have 
only one mind apiece. 

This may be expressed in another way. To speak 
of anything as an aspect of something else implies 
something perceived and something perceiving, and the 
effect of the former upon the latter is the aspect of the 
former, the thing perceived. Now for consciousness 
to be an aspect of the substance of mind there is re- 
quired, in addition to this substance, another thing or 
mind to perceive it, and consciousness must be the 
effect of the former upon the latter. But where is this 
second mind? There is none. Such an assumption 
would require a second entity, as a spirit. Therefbre, 
if matter is an aspect, or the reaction of an organism to 
something else, consciousness cannot be aspect. The 
two can never be spoken of as facts of the same cla^s. 
Besides, as was said in Chapter L, if these two classes 
of facts could be regarded as simply the subjective and 
objective aspects of one and the same thing, it would 
fall far short of offering us an adequate explanation, 
and would involve us in many difficulties such as have 
been pointed out. 

Exception may be taken to that meaning of the term 
"aspect'^ which I have employed. But if aspect is 
not to be taken in its ordinary and exact sense, then it 
must mean very little or anything that one may choose, 
and is still more objectionable as an interpretation of 
the question. 


The same objection holds to the expression that 
matter and mind are only '^ different modes of appre- 
hending the same thing." Consciousness cannot be a 
mode of apprehending something else, because this 
also implies the existence of something else that 
apprehends. What is it ? 

Again, if by the term matter be meant the con- 
scious states by which things-in-themselves are known 
to us, then matter and mind are plainly not two differ- 
ent aspects of the same fact. On the contrary, they 
are clearly different psyehical fads. The sensation of 
mental tremors is one fact, the conscious state which is 
the reality of those tremors is another fact. Each is a 
subjective fact occurring in separate organisms. The 
conscious state called a sensation of color takes place in 
organism A, for example, and the conscious state called 
neural tremors in organism B, which is observing A. 
But the conscious state in A is the cause of the con- 
scious state in B, which latter can, in this sense only, be 
said to be an aspect of the state of A, but not vice versa. 

If by matter be meant not phenomena, but the thing- 
in-itself, then still less can matter and mind be regarded 
as different aspects of the same fact. For by cerebral 
tremors we now mean the reality of these tremors, and, 
as I have endeavored to demonstrate, this reality and 
consciousness are one and the same fact. This will 
become intelligible if the reader will refer to what was 
said regarding the meaning of the term matter in 
Chapter II. 

On pursuing this mode of inquiry further, certain 
important results follow, which it will be necessary for 
us to consider. 


Let US suppose a complicated apparatus, as of micro- 
scopes^ by which B observes what takes place in A's 
brain when he has a sensation of color, for example; 
and C observes what occurs in B's brain at the same 
instant. Then it would happen that at the moment 
when A has the sensation of redness, B has the sensa- 
tion of cerebral tremors, and also C has a sensation 
of tremors. This may be graphically represented as 
follows : 

We have then the following as a result of these con- 
ditions : 

In organism A : Sensation of color ; an actuality and 

the reality of. 

In organism B : Cerebral tremors ; a conscious state, 

and as such also a realitv, but also 

commonly known as phenomena or 

matter when projected outside of 

the organism and given objective 

existence in A. It is the form in 

which color in A is symbolized in B. 

In organism C : Cerebral tremors ; a conscious state, 

and as such an actuality, and the 

form in which the conscious state in 

B is symbolized in C. 

Cerebral tremors, then, are a conscious state, which 

may be a form of apprehending in a second organism 




1st. An unlike conscious state, — sound, color, thought, 

2d. A similar conscious state or cerebral tremor. 

In this instance of C, then, we are brought to what 
seems at first the surprising fact, that that conscious state 
called cerebral tremors, which is the cognition of the 
thing-in-itself, and known as phenomena, and the thing- 
in-itself, also cerebral tremors in B, are similar though 
separate facts. And under the conditions just men- 
tioned it might almost be said that neural tremors exist 
outside of us as such ; or in other words, that such phe- 
nomena exist practically as we see them. I say prac- 
tically, for although the conscious state, neural motions, 
possessed by one organism, may be perceived by an- 
other also as neural motions in the brain of the former, 
still it does not follow that these first motions would be 
perceived as the same kind of motion. They would 
be perceived as motion of some kind, but not neces- 
sarily as the same kind. For instance, taking the same 
illustration used above, A^s sensation of color might 
be perceived by B as undulatory motion ; the conscious 
state of undulatory motion in B might be perceived as 
circular motion by C ; which again might be represented 
in D's consciousness by spiral motion, and so on. I do 
not mean to say that these particular motions do actually 
exist. That would depend upon physical conditions 
not yet understood. All I mean is that some kind of 
motion or physical change may under some conditions 
be the mode of apprehending a motion which may or 
may not be the same in kind; and we perceive the 
thing-in-itself as it really exists. 



We have now arrived at a position to consider an- 
other element in this problem, and one for which it is 
essential to find a satisfactory explanation. I refer to 
the law of the Correlation of Forces. If states of mind 
are simply states of matter, it is insisted they must be 
brought into harmony with all those general laws which 
govern the phenomena of matter. The d iflficulty of find- 
ing an application of this law to mental conditions has 
been generally recognized, and this difficulty has been 
taken advantage of by those styling themselves "anti- 
materialists/^ and urged with considerable force as an 
objection. Unless this objection can be met, material- 
ism must admit a vulnerable point. For those who are 
unfamiliar with physical science, it will be necessary 
for a thorough comprehension of the argument to state 
with some fulness the meaning and application of the 
phrase "correlation of forces.'' I cannot do this 
better than in the words of Mr. Fiske, who at the 
same time forcibly states the objections we are obliged 
to meet : " Let us now apply these principles to the 
case of an organism, such as the human body. All of 
the ^ force' — i.e.^ capacity of motion — present at any 
moment in the human body is derived from the food 
that we eat and the air that we breathe. As food is 



turned into oxygenated blood and assimilated with 
the various tissues of the body, which themselves rep- 
resent previously assimilated food, the molecular move- 
ments of the food material become variously combined 
into molecular movements in tissue, — in muscular tissue, 
in adipose, in cellular, and in nerve tissue, and so on. 
Every undulation that takes place among the molecules 
of a nerve represents some simpler form of molecular 
motion contained in food that has been assimilated ; 
and for every given quantity of the former kind of 
motion that appears, an equivalent quantity of the 
latter kind disap])ears in produ(^ing it. And so we may 
go on, keeping the account strictly balanced, until we 
reach the peculiar discharge of undulatory motion be- 
tween cerebral ganglia that uniforndy accompanies a 
feeling or state of consciousness. What now occurs? 
Along with this peculiar undulatory motion there occurs 
a feeling^ — the primary element of a thought or of an 
emotion. But does the motion produce^ the feeling 
in the same sense that heat produces light? Does a 
given quantity of motion disappear, to be replaced by an 
equivalent quantity of feeling f By no means. The 
nerve-motion in disappearing is simply distributed into 
other nerve-motions in various parts of the body, and then 
other nerve-motions, in their turn, become variously 
metamorphosed into motions of contraction in muscles, 
motions of secretion in glands, motions of assimilation 
in tissues generally, or into yet t)ther nerve-motions. 
Nowhere is there such a thing as the metamorphosis 
of motion into feeling, or of feeling into motion. Of 

1 Italics in the original, but the other italics are mine. 


course I do not mean that the circuit, as thus described, 

has ever been experimentally traced, or that it can be 
experimentally traced. What I mean is, that if the law 
of the ' correlation of forces' is to be applied at all to the 
physical processes which go on within the living organ- 
ism, we are of necessity bound to render our whole 
account into terms of motion that can be quantitatively 
measured. Once admit into the circuit some element 
— such as feeling — that does not allow of quantitative 
measurement, and the correlation can no longer be es- 
tablished; we are landed at once into absurdity and 
contradiction. So far as the correlation of forces has 
anything to do with it, the entire circle of transmuta- 
tion, from the lowest physico-chemical motion all the 
way up to the highest nerve-motion and all the way 
down again to the lowest physico-chemical motion, 
must be described in physical terms, and no account 
whatever can be taken of any such thing as feeling or 

consciousness.'' ^ 

The reader will immediately perceive how the idea 
of feeling, being something more than and in addition 
to those activities called motion, pervades the whole 
passage. This is especially evident in those passages 
indicated by italics. " Along with this peculiar un- 
dulatory motion there occurs a feeling^ — the primary 
element of a thought or of an emotion.^^ " Does a given 
quantity of motion disappear^ to be replaced by an equiva- 
lent quantity of feeling f^ The idea of feeling being 
something plus physical activities could hardly be 
more plainly stated. With this false conception as a 

^ North Am. Kev., loc. cit. 


starting-point, the conclusion affirming the inapplica- 
bility of the correlation of forces naturally follows. 

After what has been said in the preceding chapters, 
the reader will, without difficulty, recognize the fallacy 
of this conception of double processes, no matter 
whether the second property be looked upon as spirit- 
ual or physical. It leads, as was averred on page 25, 
and as Mr. Fiske has well shown, to the destruction 
of the universality of this law of correlation. But 
materialism must not be blamed for the shortcomings 
of its interpreters or the misconceptions of its oppo- 
nents. If it can be shown that materialism cannot be 
reconciled with the law of the correlation of forces, 
materialism must fall. But this is far from being the 
case. When Materialism is properly understood no 
such difficulty is met with. Before consigning any 
doctrine to oblivion, it would be becoming in its oppo- 
nents to examine once more their own interpretation 
of that doctrine, and see if the fault does not lie with 
themselves. Having begun by misunderstanding the 
doctrine of materialism, they naturally end by finding 
fault with errors which are of their own making. They 
should be more careful not to mistake tlieir own blun- 
ders for those of nature. 

But is this statement just quoted respecting the in- 
applicability of the law of the Correlation of Forces to 
Mind true of that interpretation of materialism main- 
tained in these pages? Let us see. ^^ Along with this 
peculiar form of undulatory motion there occurs a 
feeling, — the primary element of a thought or of an 
emotion.^^ This is not correct. There are not two 
things which occur simultaneously in one organism. 


There occurs solely the Feeling, and the undulatory 
motion is only the subjective expression of another 
person's perception of this feeling. Therefore it obvi- 
ously cannot be said that the motion produces the feel- 
ing, for the two are one. 

" Does a given quantity of motion disappear, to be 
replaced by an equivalent quantity of feeling ?'' If 
the term " motion" is here employed to represent that 
cerebral motion which is commonly though incorrectly 
said to accompany a feeling, the answer must be '^No,'' 
for the reason just given. But if it is used to desig- 
nate those motions which occur in the sensory nerves, 
and if we bear in mind what we mean by such motion, 
an affirmative answer may be given. Let me explain 
by an illustration what I mean. Let us suppose that 
we have been pricked in the arm by a pin. As a re- 
sult we have a sensation of pain, which in turn causes 
us to withdraw the arm. We have here what is called 
a nervous circuit. In the sensory nerve going to the 
brain there is excited some " nerve-motion,'^ which in 
turn travels to the cerebral centres, where this motion 
is exchanged for cerebral motion in the cells of the 
brain. From hence it issues again along the motor 
nerves as nerve-motion, until it finally reaches the 
muscles to become muscular motion. Here is a dy- 
namic circuit.' But where is feeling f Has it entered 
into it? Not at all; because we have been employing 
physical terms. We cannot change one term of the equa- 
tion without changing all the others to correspond, any 
more than we can add quarts and pounds together, but 
each must be reduced to the same standard of measure- 
ment. If we wish to bring feeling into the circuit, we 


must employ a corresponding set of symbols. It will 
then be expressed as follows : The molecular disturb- 
ances in the nerves, designated by nerve-motion, must 
be represented by the term ^^ unknown o?/^ The dif- 
ficulty is that the ordinary use of language carries 
with it pitfalls and dangers, which can only be avoided 
by keeping constantly before the mind the reality 
which is represented by the word. When we talk of 
nerve-motions, the most wary are liable to be misled; 
and even the more general term ^^ physical disturb- 
ance or activity'^ contains an idea of something that 
we see or feel, and the unknown conditions for which 
it stands are lost sight of. In this way terms of dif- 
ferent measurement are introduced into the equation, 
and the real question becomes lost in one of words. 

It is better, when dealing with ultimates, as we are 
when we talk of feeling, to employ such indefinite 
terms as x or y, which have no preconceived notions 
attached to them, instead of speaking of motions and 
undulations which are not ultimates. Letting x, then, 
stand for the unknown changes in the sensory nerves, 
and y for those in the motor, we can say that unknown 
X becomes transformed into an equivalent amount of 
consciousness ; that consciousness becomes again trans- 
formed into an equivalent amount of unknown y, and 
with each metamorphosis a certain amount of the one 
factor disappears, to be replaced by an equivalent 
amount of the succeeding factor. We have here, then, 
a circuit of ultimates corresponding to and identical 
with the dynamic nervous circuit, and the principle of 
" correlation of forces" becomes applicable to the facts 
of consciousness. 


But is it necessary that we should use these indefi- 
nite expressions in order that this law of correlation 
may be applied to the subjective world ? I think not, if, 
as I have said so many times before, w^e are careful not 
to mistake the symbol for the reality symbolized. AVe 
can say that in traversing the nervous circuit the nerve- 
motion in the sensory nerves becomes transformed into 
an equivalent amount of cerebral motion, or conscious- 
ness, which in turn disappears to become nerve-motion 
again. But now we must remember that "cerebral 
motion^^ and consciousness are one and the same thing. 
Only the foruier is a symbol of the latter. Not 
the gold and silver side of an iron shield, but a gold 
shield, one side of which has been silvered. If we 
wish to measure these motions by mechanical apparatus, 
of course it must be the cerebral motions, not conscious- 
ness, which are to be measured ; for mechanical methods 
can only be applied to the conditions to meet which 
they were designed. I have discussed the application 
of this law of the correlation of forces in a very gen- 
eral way, referring only to the principles underlying it. 
It would take us too far out of our way to consider all 
the complex conditions entering into the equation of 
its application, — what amount of " nerve-motion,'^ for 
example, in a sensory nerve passes into other nerve- 
motions in outgoing nerves without the intervention 
of consciousness ; how much becomes transformed into 
couvsciousness ; how much finds its equivalent in dis- 
turbances in the sympathetic system and in nutritive 
tissue change; and, finally, how much consciousness 
is balanced by the previous molecular action of the 
food storing up, so to speak, mind-force in the cells of 



the brain, ready to be discharged like a mine of gun- 
powder on lighting the fuse. These questions physiol- 
ogy is not sufficiently developed to answer at present. 

If the distinctions dwelt upon above are borne in 
mind, the difficulty ceases to be one of mere words, 
and one of the strongest objections to the materialistic 
doctrine of mind is avoided. We see how movement 
may be the cause of thought, and thought of movement. 
The assertion of Lange/ that '^were it possible for 
a single cerebral atom to be moved by ' thought' 
so much as the millionth of a millimetre out of the 
path due to it by the laws of mechanics, the whole 
^formula of the universe' would become inapplicable 
and senseless/' can only be maintained on the assump- 
tion that mind is something more than matter, a spiritual 

Thought can move an atom, for it can move the un- 
known ultimate which is the basis of that group of 
phenomena we call an atom. But to insist upon this 
precision of statement is a mere quibble over words, 
though the superficial criticisms of Lange^ may some- 
times render it necessary. 
^ ^_ 

1 History of Materialism. 

2 lbi(i.j vol. iii. p. 9. 



** Wherefore, as men owe all their true ratiocination in the 
right understanding of speech, so also they owe their errors to 
the misunderstanding of the same ; and as all the ornaments of 
philosophy proceed only from men, so from man also is derived 
the ugly absurdity of false opinions. For speech has something 
in it like to a spider's web (as it was said of old of Solon's laws), 
for by contexture of words tender and delicate wits are ensnared 
and stopped, but strong wits break easily through them." 





Having thus far been occupied with the considera- 
tion of the nature of mind, we are now prepared to 
enter upon the second part of our subject, or Human 
Automatism. But as what will follow consists only 
of deductions from the principles laid down in the 
preceding chapters, it was absolutely essential that we 
should first see that these principles were well estab- 
lished and clearly understood. It is to be hoped that this 
has been done, and that that interpretation of material- 
ism has been given which is both consistent with the 
facts and affords a complete explanation of the mystery 
of consciousness. It is because proper pains have not 
always been taken to establish the correctness of the 
first principles, that such extraordinary and indefensible 
deductions have sometimes been drawn. 

We have seen how consciousness is nothing more 
than the reality of those physical processes we call un- 
dulations, and that the latter are only the means by 
which consciousness becomes known to us when appre- 
hended by a second person through the senses, — in fact, 
the symbols of consciousness. 

But this doctrine involves logical consequences from 
which there can be no escape, and which we cannot 
avoid considering. 



As physical processes are symbols and equivalents of 
consciousness^ we can, through the physical method, let 
them stand for mental processes, study them as such 
equivalents, and investigate the conditions under which 
they arise. Afterwards we can translate the results 
into terms of consciousness. 

Now that matter, of which consciousness is the re- 
ality, must be subject to the laws which govern matter. 
One of these laws is the law of inertia. According to 
this, matter cannot of itself change its own state. Mat- 
ter at rest must forever remain at rest, unless some- 
thing outside of itself disturbs it and puts it in motion. 
Matter in motion must forever persist in motion till 
something outside of it checks it. Matter exhibited 
under one property must forever be exhibited under 
that property, unless some external force causes it to 
be exhibited under another. Whatever be the state of 
matter at a given moment, it must always remain in 
that state till outside agencies effect a change. This 
is a universal law ; it has no exception. To this law, 
then, the '^ matter of the mind'^ must be subject. Let 
us apply it and see what it means. It means this: that 
no change of any kind, chemical or physical, can occur 
in ^the protoplasm of the brain without the interference 
of outside agencies; that no vibration or pulsation can 
occur among the protoplasmic molecules of any cell 
unless some cause external to that cell acts upon them; 
that for the undulations of the molecules — of which 
consciousness is the reality — to occur, some external 
force is requisite to start them into activity; in other 
words, for consciousness to be present it is necessary 
that each cell should be stimulated by something exter- 


nal to that eell.^ The activity of the molecules of no 
cell can appear spontaneously, and hence neither can 
the reality of that activity, or consciousness. Conscious- 
ness, then, is passive, not active; it is conditioned exist- 
ence, not unconditioned; it is a link in a series of 

Such is the inevitable result to which our reasoning 
leads us. If consciousness depends on matter being 
disturbed, it must be passive. This is a logical conse- 
quence of our premises, from which there is no escape. 
But if our thouglits are passive, — if they are merely 
the molecular disturbances in themselves and cannot 
arise spontaneously, — it must be that the stimulus re- 
quired for their production cannot be applied in any 
indefinite manner at haphazard, but only through the 
anatomical mechanism of the brain, — only through the 
nerve-conductors developed for the purpose. The 
channels by which stimuli from without reach the cells 
of the brain are the centripetal nerves; and any succession 
of ideas can only occur by reason of the neural ^^ cur- 

1 Objection may be made to this on the ground that, conscious- 
ness being the reality, the laws which govern phenomena cannot 
be applied to it. But I have already shown (Chapter Y.) that by 
a change of all the terms in the series the law of correlation of 
forces may be extended to mental processes. Furthermore, the 
physical process being the equivalent and symbol of the mental 
process, we can substitute the one for the other; and having 
worked out the problem, retranslate the results back again into 
the original terms. It is not possible to conceive of the neural 
vibrations being absent or present without its reality, conscious- 
ness, being similarly absent or present; and anything which, 
from a physical point of view, causes the occurrence of the 
vibrations must, from a psychological point of view, have an 
equivalent result in consciousness. 


rents/^ wherever originated, being reflected from one 
cell to another along the anatomical connections which 
join the cells; and any objective expression of an idea 
can only take place by reason of the current passing 
again from the brain to the organs of expression, which 
are the muscles. In other words, under normal con- 
ditions, every muscular action, every idea, sensation, or 
emotion requires for its production some stimulus origi- 
nating outside of its own nervous centre, — that is, it is 

I think it is possible to show, by reference to the 
facts of physiology and pathology, that from the sim- 
plest muscular act, such as the winking of the eyelid, 
to the most complex muscular actions and trains of 
thought, there is never a difference in kind, only one of 
degree ; that we can pass from one to the other by a 
series of gradations, step by step, and find them all of 
the same nature, reflex in character. 

There is one objection to this conclusion respecting 
the reflex character of ideas which, at first sight, ap- 
pears plausible, but yet, whatever validity it may have, 
does essentially affect the principle of the hypothesis. 
It may be urged (and, from a philosophical point of 
view, correctly) that, even if the physical process in the 
brain be a reflex one, this term, which derives its mean- 
ing from physical conditions, cannot be applied to de- 

^ There is one probable exception to this, and that is when 
ideas under abnormal conditions are caused by direct irritation of 
the blood, as in delirium, or by foreign substances, as opium. But 
in this case the ideas are still passive, and it is probable that only 
some of these ideas are due to direct irritation and the remainder 
are reflected, as shown by the association of allied ideas. 


note the character of psychical facts. When we say, for 
instance, that certain nervous processes are reflex, we 
mean that the neural current passes along certain in- 
going nerves to certain groups of neural cells in the 
brain ; that then the current, after having started cer- 
tain reactions in the molecules of the cells, is reflected 
from cell to cell, a similar effect being produced in each; 
and, finally, that the current is reflected outwards along 
certain outgoing paths to the muscles, to end in action 
of some kind. We can even form a picture in the 
mind of all this, and perhaps graphically represent it 
on paper. But no such picture can be drawn to illus- 
trate the relation of the psychical facts, the ideas, which 
are the reality and correspond to this process. We 
can see that one idea is invariably associated with an- 
other idea ; that one follows another according to cer- 
tain laws of thought, which we can formulate from our 
former experience. But this association is nothing like 
the picture we formed of the reflex physical process. 
All this is undoubtedly true, but nevertheless it cannot 
be regarded as a fatal objection to the hypothesis ad- 
vanced, nor as irreconcilable with all the facts. Ideas 
are the reality of the physical process, and though they 
cannot, by a strict use of terms, be said to be reflex, 
still the relations between them are of a nature that 
correspond to the reflex physical process ; so that ideas 
in some way, which possibly cannot be translated into 
thought, are bound together in a fashion which has its 
counterpart in the reflected neural current and cellular 
commotions. The reality of the cellular commotions 
are ideas, and the reflected physical process is the man- 
ner in which these realities are recognized by us when 


apprehended through the senses. This use of physical 
terms to describe subjective conditions need not be fal- 
lacious or regarded as unphilosophical if we only have 
in mind the conditions for which the terms stand.^ 

1 See also note to page 96. 



The outcome of our inquiry thus far has resulted 
in a theory which both explains the '' relationship of 
the mind to the body/^ and also the mechanism by which 
mental action takes place. This theory at once satis- 
fies all the conditions of the case^ and explains the 
mysteries which have so long hung about the problem. 
We have seen how the very question^ " How is the 
mind related to matter?'^ involves erroneous assump- 
tions regarding the nature of each, which make the 
question itself an absurd one. In the reflex theory of 
ideas we find a mechanism by which the human mind 
carries on all its manifold operations, from the sim- 
plest mental act, like the sudden start of the body 
at the sound of a cannon, to the most complex train 
of thought. In passing from the more simple to the 
more complex the paths of thought become more cir- 
cuitous and more complicated, but the process does not 
change. The difference is in degree, not in kind. On 
the physical side the current is reflected from cell to 
cell till it finally ends in the outgoing current which 
terminates in muscular action ; and on the mental side, 
each thought, which is the reality of the physical process, 
is attached, so to speak, in some unknown way to each 
succeeding thought in such a manner that one necessa- 



rily ensues upon the other, according to certain psycho- 
logical laws. Every idea calls up the particular idea 
which is associated with it in the same chain of ideas, 
to end finally, also, in muscular action ; though, as each 
chain is linked with hundreds of other chains which 
cross its paths, fresh stimuli may switch the current of 
ideas along these connecting chains into fresh circuits. 

To this reflex view there are logical consequences from 
which I see no escape. From the theory that a mental 
process is the reality of the reflex physiological process 
to the doctrine of automatism is a step which we are 
compelled by the force of logical necessity to take, or 
rather, the two doctrines are essentially the same. For 
any doctrine which removes our thoughts from the 
control of a hypothetical agent which is independent 
of external influences, and confines them to certain 
channels in which they are propelled, directly or indi- 
rectly, by stimuli (external or internal) is practically 
automatism. Under the reflex view, spontaneity, in the 
sense that any idea or state of mind can arise except as 
the resultant of some other idea by which it is condi- 
tioned, is impossible. Reflex is, consequently, equiva- 
lent to automatic. 

On the other hand, the automatism which we are 
compelled to adopt is modified in a most important 
particular by the discovery of the relation which mind 
bears to matter. By this modification the principal 
objection to automatism is removed. As we have 
already seen (Chapter I.), and as we shall presently see 
more fully, some automatists, from a failure to take into 
account the testimony of direct consciousness, have 
given expression to a theory according to which all 


our actions are accomplished by the physiological mech- 
anism of the brain, without being influenced in any 
way by volition or feeling. These latter are limited 
to the part of indicators to tell how the physical ma- 
chinery beneath is working, nothing more. Any such 
notion of automatism can only arise from an ill- 
digested consideration of the facts and a total miscon- 
ception of the problem in question. Now, on the con- 
trary, the form of automatism which is the outcome of 
the reflex theory we have formed takes into account 
the testimony offered directly by consciousness, and 
recognizes fully the part played by volition in acting 
on the bodily mechanism and determining our actions. 
The great merit of the doctrine of the nature of mind 
which has been adopted in these pages is that it har- 
monizes our subjective and objective knowledge, and 
not only allows to consciousness the power of acting 
on the molecules of matter, but renders intelligible 
how it acts. Consciousness is as much an agent in 
determining physical action as molecular motion is, — 
nay, it is more. 

That I do this or that because I feel so and so is a 
psychological fact beyond dispute. No amount of 
reasoning can argue me out of the belief that I drink 
this water because I am thirsty. But this is only stating 
the problem in other terms, — in psychological instead 
of physiological terms, — and does not in any way con- 
tradict our hypothesis. We can indifferently say that 
any action is dependent upon the organic connection 
of the nervous elements, or say it is dependent upon 
our feelings. It must be remembered that a subjective 
process and a neural disturbance are, at bottom, one 


and the same things and either may be said to be the 
cause of the ensuing action, if we bear in mind the 
terms in which the fact is expressed. But in one sense 
it is more correct to speak in terms of feeling and 
thought than in those of matter. Ideas, sensations, 
etc., are the ultimates, the final terms to which phe- 
nomena can be reduced. They are actualities, and 
well known to us, while physical undulations, etc., are 
not, being merely phenomena. Hence it is more cor- 
rect to use psychological terms, in speaking of mental 
^^ phenomena,^^ than physical terms. 

It was shown in a preceding chapter how, from a 
misunderstanding of the real relation between mind 
and physical changes, — how, from the conception of 
consciousness being something in addition to neural 
undulations, — the conclusion naturally follows that, as 
muscular action was only in direct connection with the 
physical changes of the brain, consciousness, which was 
something more and outside the former, could have 
nothing to do with the production of our actions, and 
must be merely a collateral product. This conclusion 
followed logically from the premises, but was also 
drawn unwarrantably from certain experiments on 
animals. The bearing of these experiments upon the 
point at issue will be discussed presently. We are now 
considering this conclusion as a logical deduction from 
the premises referred to. The adversaries of the mod- 
ern doctrine, as well as its disciples, were not slow to 
point out that it is a psychological /ac^ that our feelings 
are the cause of our actions, — that when we rub a spot 
where we have been bitten by a mosquito, we do it 
because we feel uncomfortably at that spot. This is a 


fact which every one can verify as often as he pleases. 
This being so, the logical inference which should be 
drawn is that there is some fallacy in the premises. 
Bat the opponents went further^ and inferred that if 
our feelings are the cause of our actions, then we can- 
not be automata. This is an unjustifiable inference 
because there is no evidence that one excludes the 
other. It has been thought that we could only be 
automata on the supposition that our feelings were 
collateral products. Now, on the contrary, I main- 
tain ; first^ that our feelings are not collateral products; 
second, that they are the active agents; and, third, that 
nevertheless we are automata. 

This conception that feeling as agent necessarily ex- 
cludes automatism is expressed by G. H. Lewes in the 
following paragraph : 

" The question of automatism, which has been argued 
in the preceding chapters, may, I think, be summarily 
disposed of by a reference to the irresistible evidence 
each man carries in his own consciousness that his 
actions are frequently, even if not always, determined 
by feelings. He is quite certain that he is not an 
automaton, and that his feelings are not simply collat- 
eral products of his actions, without the power of 
modifying and originating them.^^ 

Now in this passage there is really contained a 
syllogism which may be expressed as follows : 

" If Feeling determines action, and is not a collateral 
product, we are not automata. Consciousness proves 
that Feeling does determine action; ergo, we are not 

Now the point maintained here is, that the first 


premise is incorrect; hence the conclusion is invalid. 
Feeling may be the cause of physical action^ and the 
whole be still automatic. 

If our hypothesis regarding the nature of the mind 
be the correct one, and feeling and physical changes 
be practically the same thing, it follows that one is as 
much the cause of physical actions as the other, and 
one is as automatic as the other. 

It is proper to state that these are not the main 
reasons which Mr. Lewes gives for rejecting the 
theory of automatism. On the contrary, a large por- 
tion of his work is devoted to an elaborate exposition 
of his views on this question. It would carry us too 
far out of the way to enter into an examination of 
them, involving as they do questions which are far 
beyond the limits set for this work. Suffice it to say 
that Mr. Lewes devotes considerable space to a discus- 
sion of the functions of automata, and to the question 
whether unconscious and reflex actions are governed by 
Sensibility. Finding that automata have not Sensi- 
bility, and also holding that all our actions, those that 
are conscious and unconscious, as well as those ordi- 
narily called reflex, are governed by Sensibility, he 
concludes that the human organism is not an automaton. 
We cannot enter into the question as to how far sensi- 
bility enters into so-called unconscious actions, as it is 
not essential to our argument. From our point of 
view it makes no difference whether the so-called 
unconscious actions are guided by Sensibility or not ; 
in either case our answer w^ould be the same. I am 
ready, however, to follow Mr. Lewes some distance, 
and allow sensibility to many " unconscious^^ actions. 


As^ for instance, when walking through the crowded 
streets we avoid the passers-by though our thoughts 
are deeply intent on something else. We certainly 
have the optical sensations of the passing crowd, and 
are guided by them, though at the time we are un- 
conscious of the sensations. On the other hand, there 
are many reflex actions to which no subjective quality 
can be attached, and which cannot be governed by any- 
thing of the nature of sensibility, unless by sensibility 
is merely meant a neural reaction as opposed to other 
physical reactions, in which case the question becomes 
one only of terms. 

Even if conscious and unconscious actions be gov- 
erned by Sensibility, they may still be automatic. To 
be sure, a sentient action is not in one sense of the term 
a mechanical one, for no mechanical toy has conscious- 
ness or sensibility of any kind. If it be maintained 
that nothing is automatic which has consciousness and 
is worked by sensations, then we are not on this defi- 
nition automata. But this limitation of the word 
automatism is not in my opinion essential. 

When it is said that mental processes are automatic, 
I do not conceive that it is necessarily meant that we 
are identical with or like machines in every particular. 
For instance, human beings grow and generate other 
human beings, functions not possessed by machines. 
When it is said that we are automata, or that our men- 
til processes are automatic, I understand that all that 
is meant is that our thoughts, sensations, volitions, and 
actions follow in certain grooves or channels which 
have their analogies and equivalents in the anatomical 
mechanism of the brain, and that the presence of every 


state of mind is conditioned by the anatomical struc- 
ture and physiological working of the brain. Automa- 
tism is then synonymous with reflex action.^ The 
theory of automatism is antithetical to the spiritual 
doctrine which postulates a central unconditioned Ego 
holding undisputed sway over our actions. 

^' But/^ says Mr. Lewes^ " it [organized experience] 
cannot be made to enter into the mechanism of an au- 
tomaton^ because^ however complex that mechanism 
may be^ and however capable of variety of action^ it 
is constructed solely for definite actions on calculated 
lines; all its readjustments must have been foreseen, 
it is incapable of adjusting itself to unforeseen circum- 
stances. Hence every interruption in the prearranged 
order either throsvs it out of gear, or brings it to a 
standstill. It is regulated, not self-regulating. The 
organism, on the contrary, — conspicuously so in its more 
complex forms, — is variable, self-regulating, incalcu- 
lable. It has selective adaptation responding readily 
and efficiently to novel and unforeseen circumstances, 
acquiring new modes of combination and reaction. 
An automaton that will learn by experience, and adapt 
itself to conditions not calculated for in its construction, 
has yet to be made ; till it is made we must deny that 
organisms are machines.'^ ^ Using the same method of 
reasoning we may answer, such a machine has been 
made, not by man, it is true, but by nature. In the 
human organism we find such an automaton made by 
natural forces. 

1 Mr. Lewes admits that all mental action is reflex. 

2 Physical Basis of Mind, p. 433. 


The part which feeling plays in our action is a point 
of great importance^ and it seems to me that it is from 
a failure to thoroughly grasp it that many materialists 
have been led into error and have laid themselves open 
to criticism. And, if I am right, even such an acute 
thinker as Professor Huxley seems to have become in- 
volved in this fallacy. "The consciousness of brutes/^ 
he says, "would appear to be related to the mechanism 
of their body simply as a collateral product of its work- 
ing, and to be as completely without the power of modi- 
fying that working as the steam whistle, which accom- 
panies the work of a locomotive engine, is without 
influence upon its machinery.'^ Their volition, if they 
have any, is an emotion indicative of physical changes, 
not a cause of such changes.^ 

Again, "It seems to me that in men as in brutes 
there is no proof that any state of consciousness is the 
cause of change in the motion of matter of the organ- 
ism. If these positions are well based, it follows that 
our mutual conditions are siaiply the symbols in con- 
sciousness of the changes which take place automatic- 
ally in the organism : and that to take an extreme 
illustration, the feeling we call volition is not the cause 
of a voluntary act, but the symbol of that state of the 
brain which is the immediate cause of that act.^^ ^ 

I must be pardoned if I dissent from so distinguished 
a writer. I cannot agree with the statement "that 
consciousness^ is related to the mechanical working of 
the body simply as a collateral product of its working ;'^ 
nor can I admit the slightest analogy between it and 

1 Fortnightly Eeview, November, 1874. 2 j\^i^^ 


the steam whistle of a locomotive. It seems to me, if 
the theory of consciousness which has been adopted in 
these pages be the correct one, that consciousness has 
the greatest power of modifying the working of the 
body. That I rub my arm because I have pain there, 
and because I have in my mind an idea that I shall 
relieve that pain if I rub it, seems to me to be an 
incontrovertible fact. You may employ the physio- 
logical method, if you please, and by using an artifice 
state the fact in physical terms instead of psychological. 
You may then say that the muscular action requisite 
for the act of rubbing is the consequence of molecular 
disturbances in the brain. This is absolutely true. 
But these so-called molecular disturbances are in reality 
consciousness, and hence consciousness is just as much 
the cause of the '' working of the body'^ as these mo- 
lecular disturbances. Any other conception than this 
involves a paradox. 

I am unable to quite understand how it can be said 
that '^ our mental conditions are simply the symbols in 
consciousness of the changes which take place automatic- 
ally in the organism,^^ if that idea of the nature of 
consciousness which I have endeavored to make intelli- 
gible in the preceding pages is clearly borne in mind. 

There are only two hypotheses respecting the nature 
of consciousness which are compatible with this notion 
of its being a ^^ collateral product,^^ and neither of these 
can be logically established. First, it may be supposed 
that consciousness is a distinct entity existing beyond 
the physiological changes in the brain. That when an 
idea is present, there are brought into existence two 
things, — that which we call a physical change plus 


something more^ an idea^ and this idea is something 
produced or secreted. I have already shown that this 
is impossible; that if it were the case this idea, the 
second entity^ must be either material or immaterial, 
neither of which conditions are within the bounds of 
probabilities. If my reasoning be not false, conscious- 
ness is nothing more than the reality of these physical 
changes. When the brain is irritated we have feeling 
as a result, while physical changes are only the mode 
by which another person ideally perceives it. 

The second hypothesis offers the most legitimate 
interpretation of the doctrine we are considering, and 
it is the one which I believe is in harmony with Pro- 
fessor Huxley's views. I do not wish to misrepresent 
him, but I am unable to discover in his expressed 
opinions any other meaning which is logically compati- 
ble with the view of ^^our mental conditions being 
only symbols in consciousness/' etc. 

According to this second hypothesis feeling is a 
^^ property'' or "function of matter/' but it must be a 
second function which has an existence in addition to 
and parallel with that function we call physical change. 
Whenever physical change occurs, then the function of 
consciousness appears side by side with it. This view 
has already been discussed in Chapter L, and reasons 
given to show its want of validity. It has been shown 
that there is nothing in the second function which can- 
not be as well explained through the first (physical 
change) ; it is not applicable to the law of the correla- 
tio:i of forces; it leads to the denial of feeling being an 
a'tive agent in the production of our actions. Any 
such conclusion as this last must be an absurdity on the 



face of it. The objectioDs urged by Dr. Carpenter and 
Mr. Martineau ^ are well founded, namely, that it ren- 
ders consciousness superfluous, and it would necessarily 
follow that all our acts and doings, both mental and 
physical, the greatest works of poets, the paintings of 
artists, and the labors of statesmen could be as well per- 
formed without consciousness as with it. This reduces 
such a conception to a paradox and absurdity. 

This opinion, to which Professor Huxley has given 
expression, was apparently based on some well-known 
experiments on animals, and soon aroused considerable 
opposition and discussion. It has not appeared that 
the results of these experiments would warrant any 
such inference being drawn from them. But as what- 
ever is said or written by this distinguished scientist 
has necessarily very great weight, and as these expres- 
sions in particular attracted much attention, I do not 
think it will be considered superfluous to take the time 
to consider the bearing which these experiments above 
referred to have on the question at issue. They, together 
with the phenomena of hypnotism, somnambulism, and 
kindred states, have thrown more light on the problems 
of consciousness than all other discoveries in nervous 

A frog, from which the cerebral hemispheres have been 
removed, that is to say, that portion of the brain which is 
concerned with intelligence, volition, and the other higher 
faculties, is still capable of executing all the movements 
natural to it, under certain conditions. If such a frog, 
for example, be placed on the palm of the hand, and the 

^ Modern Materialism, by Kev. James Martineau. 


hand then gently turned, the frog w 11 crawl upwards 
on the palm till it reaches the edge, and then as the 
hand is still turned, it will crawl over upon the back 
of the hand, when this becomes uppermost, where it 
will remain quietly at rest if the hand is held in 
this horizontal position. If the hand be again slowly 
turned back to its original position, the frog will reverse 
the process till it reaches the palm where it was first 
placed. If again the frog be thrown into the water, it 
will swim like a natural frog, but will keep on swim- 
ming until exhausted or till it strikes an obstacle, when 
it will stop. If it strikes a board, it will crawl out 
of the water on to it. If the creature be pinched, it 
will hop, and if something be placed in its path, it will 
jump one side out of the way and avoid it. If its 
flanks be stroked, it will croak once for each stroke. 
This it w^ill do as regularly and without fail as an en- 
gine will whistle when you pull the steam-valve. But 
if the creature be left alone, it will remain quiet for an 
indefinite period and make no effort to eat or move. 
All desire to do anything is lost. Whatever it does is 
done only after having been prodded. 

Similar experiments have been made on other ani- 
mals, on pigeons, fishes, rats, etc., and with similar 
results. A pigeon from which the cerebral hemi- 
spheres (including even the corpora striata and optic 
thalami, two important centres at the base of the brain) 
have been removed, is able still to stand on one leg 
like an unmutilated bird which has gone to sleep. If 
left alone, it remains quiet like a dull and sleepy bird. 
If disturbed, it shifts its position. It dresses its 
feathers and tucks its head under its wing. If food 


be placed before it, it will not notice it, and will starve 
if not artificially fed ; but if food be placed in its mouth, 
it will swallow and chew like a natural bird. If the 
pigeon be thrown into the air it will fly, and its flight 
can scarcely be distinguished from that of a normal 
bird. It will fly for a considerable distance and avoid 
obstacles. A fish thrown into the water swims like a 
natural fish, and avoids obstacles with considerable 
precision. The rabbit and rat which have been simil- 
arly mutilated run and leap. A pigeon was observed 
by Flourens, who was first to experiment in this man- 
ner, to open its eyes on a pistol being fired ofi^, '' stretch 
its neck, raise its head, and then fall back into its former 
torpid attitude,^^ but it showed no signs of fear. It 
sometimes followed the movements of the candle in 
front of it. Vulpian severed all connection between 
the brain and spinal cord just above the medulla oblon- 
gata in a rat ; on pinching the foot the animal uttered 
a sharp cry of pain. " In another experiment he re- 
moved the cerebral hemispheres, the corpora striata, 
and the optic thalami of the rat, when it remained 
perfectly quiet ; but immediately a sound of spitting 
was made in imitation of that which a cat makes 
sometimes, it made a bound away and repeated the 
jump each time that the noise was made.^^ 

The actions of animals from which the brain has 
been removed have been thus summarized by Onimus. 

^' As a summary, in the inferior animals, as in the 
superior animals, the removal of the cerebral hemi- 
spheres does not cause to disappear any of the move- 
ments that previously existed, only these movements 
assume certain peculiar characters. In the first place, 


they are more regular, they have the true normal type, 
for no psychical influence intervenes to modify them ; 
the locomotive apparatus is brought into action without 
interferences, and one could almost say that, the en- 
semble of movements is the more normal than in the 
normal condition. 

^' In the second place, the movements executed take 
place inevitably after certain excitations. It is a neces- 
sity that the frog placed in water should swim, and that 
the pigeon thrown into the air should fly. The physi- 
ologist can then, at will, in an animal without the brain, 
determine such and such an act, limit it, arrest it ; he 
can anticipate the movements and affirm in advance 
that they w^ill take place under certain conditions, 
absolutely as the chemist knows in advance the reac- 
tions that he will obtain in mixing certain bodies. 

" Another peculiarity in the movements that take 
place, when the cerebral lobes are removed, is their con- 
tinuation after a first impression. On the ground, a frog 
without the brain when irritated makes, in general, 
two or three jumps at the most; it is rare that he 
makes but one. Placed in water, it continues the 
movement of natation until it meets with an obstacle ; 
it is the same in the carp, eel, etc. The pigeon contin- 
ues to fly, the duck and goose continue to swim, etc. 
We should say that there is a spring which needs for 
its action a first impression, and which is stopped by the 
slightest resistance. But, what is striking, is precisely 
that continuation of the condition once determined, and 
we cannot refrain from connecting the facts observed 
in an animal deprived of the cerebral lobes with those 

which constitute the characteristic properties of inor- 
h 10^ 


ganic matter. Brought into movement, the animal 
without a brain retains the movement until there is 
exhaustion of the conditions of movement, or until it 
meets with resistance ; taken in repose, it remains in 
the state of inertia until an exterior cause intervenes to 
bring it out of this condition. It is living^ inert matter, ^^ ^ 
It is hardly necessary to enter into any extended 
discussion of these experiments. What they show is, 
that the movements habitual in the lower animals, as 
walking, running, flying, etc., as well as similar move- 
ments in man, are or may be performed without the 
continuous intervention of consciousness,^ by a mechan- 
ism at the base of the brain. In the gray ganglia at the 
base is contained a clock-work which is capable of carry- 
ing on these movements when once the spring has been 
touched which sets it into action. The modes by which 
this spring may be touched are various. It may be di- 
rectly through the sensory nerves without the interven- 
tion of the brain, as in the case of these experiments; 
in which case all movements will be performed without 
the influence of volition or consciousness ; or it may be 

^ Flint's Physiology. 

- To avoid misunderstanding, it should be stated that the term 
"consciousness'' is used here in connection with these experi- 
ments to indicate that special mode of consciousness called self- 
consciousness, by which we are conscious of our sensations. It 
is not necessary for us to enter into the question whether these 
animals have any sensations or sensibility at all. What I am 
contending for is, that even granting they have no sensations or 
anything that can be imagined as a subjective state, that still 
they do not negative the conclusion that in the normal state con- 
sciousness, either in its general or special form, is a causative 
factor in our actions. 


through the brain and intellect; in which case this 
clock-work will be directly under the control of voli- 
tion. In the former case the response will naturally 
be machine-like after the cerebrum has been removed, 
for there will remain no force capable of modifying 
the reaction once begun ; inasmuch as with the brain all 
volition and higher forms of consciousness have been 
destroyed. When the automatic mechanism has once 
begun to work, it will continue till either the clock has 
run down or a new stimulus to the sensory nerves has 
started a new reaction. But the movements which are 
carried on in this way are only those which are habitu- 
ally performed by animals under normal conditions. 
The part which is normally played by that special 
form of consciousness called volition in all such move- 
ments, is to touch the spring and to regulate the work- 
ings of the mechanism, so as to adapt the latter to the 
clianging wants of the organism. 

While volition can interfere and direct each move- 
ment of the body, it habitually does so only when 
some new or unusual movement is to be performed, 
or some old combination of movement is to be 
adapted to altered conditions. We all know that 
even in man for such habitual movements as walk- 
ing, speaking, writing, sewing, knitting, etc., con- 
sciousness of the muscular action employed is not 
necessary. We are accustomed to perform these actions 
mechanically, as we say, without being aware of each 
movement we make. Consciousness simply sets in 
motion the mechanism at the base of the brain. In 
this way a division of labor is effected. If we were 
obliged to keep our thoughts intent upon every move- 


ment we make^ our brains would soon tire, and we 
would have little opportunity for thought and reflection 
upon the matter which the movements were intended to 
effect. If I were obliged to keep my mind intent upon 
the formation of each letter as I write, I should have 
little opportunity for thought concerning the matter 
about which I write. 

In this important particular, then, the animal with- 
out a brain differs from the normal animal. Though 
all possible movements can be performed, they are not 
performed in the same manner as before. The animal 
has lost the faculty which in the normal condition mod- 
ifies his movements; he has no intelligence or volition. 
He may be said to know nothing. The customary 
agency which guides him is gone. That agency is 
feeling. His past experience can serve him only so 
far as it has impressed itself in the mechanism at the 
base of the brain, and can become manifest only as a 
mechanical resultant to external impressions. Though 
all normal movements are performed, they are so only 
as necessary reactions to external stimuli, and in a 
stereotyped manner. While the animal reacts to a 
stimulus, it does not recognize what the stimulus is; it 
shows no fear or pleasure. 

Though it is true that notwithstanding the loss of the 
brain, and also, therefore, of consciousness, the animal 
is capable of movements of a complicated character, yet 
with this loss of consciousness there is also lost that very 
modification of the movements which is peculiar to the 
animal possessing consciousness, and which is effected by 
consciousness. With the loss of consciousness there is 
lost also the especial manifestations of consciousness. 


These experiments, then, plainly cannot be cited in 
evidence of the theory that volition has no influence in 
modifying bodily action. When properly examined 
they are capable of no such interpretations. On the 
contrary, they show that with the removal of the brain 
there is brought about just such a profound derange- 
ment of bodily functions as would be expected to 
follow from the withdrawal of consciousness ; and the 
results harmonize completely with our knowledge of 
the functions of the brain. 

In these experiments it is very probable that all the 
actions of the animals were not only performed auto- 
matically, but without the co-operation or even pres- 
ence of any kind of consciousness, that is, anything like 
d subjective state ; for the cerebral hemispheres had been 
removed. But in the following extraordinary case a dif- 
ference of opinion has existed, and Professor Huxley in 
particular was led to believe from analogy with the above 
cases of frogs and other animals, that consciousness was 
not present. The case is well known and has been 
frequently quoted, and I should not venture to repeat 
it here were it not that it has an important bearing on 
the question under discussion, and apparently is ihQ 
principal evidence upon which Professor Huxley rests 
his conclusions. In this case not only were all move- 
ments present which occur normally, but they were 
modified and adapted to changing conditions as in the 
normal state. If it can be shown, then, that they took 
place without being accompanied by consciousness, a 
strong case is made out for Professor Huxley's side. 

The case was reported by Dr. E. Mesnet in the 
Union Medicale of July 21 and 23, 1874. The follow- 


ing account of it is taken from Maudsley's " Physiology 
of the Mind'' : 

"A sergeant in the French army, aged 27 years, 
was wounded at the battle of Bazeilles by a bullet, 
which fractured the left parietal bone. He had power 
enough to thrust his bayonet into the Prussian soldier 
who wounded him, but almost at the same instant his 
right arm, and soon afterwards his right leg, became 
paralyzed. He lost consciousness, and only recovered 
it at the end of three weeks, when he found himself in 
the hospital at Mayence. Eight hemiplegia was then 

'' By the end of a year he had regained the use of 
his side, a slight feebleness thereof only being left. 
Some three or four months after the wound, peculiar 
disturbances of the brain manifested themselves, which 
have recurred since periodically. They usually last 
from fifteen to thirty hours, the sound intervals be- 
tween them varying from fifteen to thirty days. These 
alternating phases of normal and abnormal conscious- 
ness have continued for four years. 

" In his normal condition, the sergeant is intelligent, 
and performs satisfactorily the duties of a hospital 
attendant. The transition to the abnormal state is in- 
stantaneous. There is some uneasiness or heaviness 
about the forehead, which he compares with the press- 
ure of an iron band, but there are no convulsions, nor 
is there any cry. He becomes suddenly unconscious 
of his surroundings and acts like an automaton. His 
eyes are wide open, the pupils dilated, the forehead is 
contracted, there is incessant movement of the eyeballs 
and a chewing motion of the jaws. In a place to 


which he is accustomed he walks about freely as usual, 
but if he be put in a place unknown to him, or if an 
obstacle is put in his way barring his passage, he 
stumbles gently against it, stops, feels it with his hand, 
and then passes on one side of it. He offers no resist- 
ance to being turned this way or that, but continues his 
walk in the way in which he is directed. He eats, 
drinks, smokes, walks, dresses and undresses himself, 
and goes to bed at his usual hours. He eats voraciously 
and without discernment, scarcely chewing his food at 
all, and devours all that is set before him without 
showing any satiety. General sensibility is lost, pins 
may be run into his body, or strong electric shocks sent 
through it, without his evincing the least pain. The 
hearing is completely lost; noises made close to his ears 
do not affect him. The senses of taste and smell are 
lost ; he drinks indifferently water, wine, vinegar, assa- 
foetida, and perceives neither good nor bad odors. The 
sense of sight is almost, but not quite lost; on some 
occasions he appears to be in some degree sensible to 
brilliant objects, but he is obliged to call the sense of 
touch to his aid in order to apprehend their nature, 
form, and position ; they produce only vague visual 
impressions, which require interpretation into the lan- 
guage of touch. The sense of touch alone persists in 
its integrity ; it seems, indeed, to be more acute than 
normal, and to serve almost exclusively to maintain his 
relations with the external world. When he comes out 
of the attack he has no remembrance whatever of what 
has happened during it, and expresses the greatest sur- 
prise when told what he has done. 

" Through the tactile sense, trains of ideas may be 


aroused in his mind^ which he immediately carries into 
action. On one occasion, when walking in the garden 
under some trees, he dropped his cane, which was picked 
up and put into his hand. He felt it, passing his hand 
several times over the curved handle, became attentive, 
seemed to listen, and suddenly cried out, ' Henri,^ 
and a little while afterwards, ^ There they are, at least 
twenty of them ; we shall get the better of them !' He 
then put his hand behind his back, as if to get a car- 
tridge, went through the movements of loading his 
musket, threw himself full length upon the grass, and 
concealing his head behind a tree, after the manner of 
a sharpshooter, followed, with his cane to his shoulder, 
all the movements of the enemy whom he seemed to 
see. This performance, provoked in the same way, was 
repeated on several occasions. It was probably the 
reproduction of an incident in the campaign in which 
he was wounded. ' I have found,^ says Dr. Mesnet, 
' that the same scene is reproduced when the patient is 
placed in the same conditions. It has thus been possi- 
ble for me to direct the activity of my patient in ac- 
cordance with a train of ideas which I could call up, 
by playing upon his tactile sensibility at a time when 
none of his other senses afforded me any communication 
with him.^ 

'' All the actions of the sergeant, when in his abnor- 
mal state, are either repetitions of what he does every 
day, or they are excited by the impressions which 
objects make upon his tactile sense. Arriving once at 
the end of a corridor where there was a locked door, 
he passed his hands over the door, found the handle, 
took hold of it and tried to open the door. Failing in 


this, he searched for the key-hole, but there was no 
key there ; thereupon he passed his fingers over the 
screws of the lock, and endeavored to turn them, with 
the evident purpose of removing the lock. Just as he 
was about to turn away from the door, Dr. Mesnet 
held up before his eyes a bunch of seven or eight keys ; 
he did not see them; they were jingled loudly close to 
his ears, but he took no notice of them : thev were 
then put into his hand, when he immediately took hold 
of them, and tried one key after another in the key- 
hole without finding one that would fit. Leaving the 
place, he went into one of the wards, taking on his way 
various articles, with which he filled his pockets, and 
at length came to a little table which was used for 
making the records of the ward. He passed his hands 
over the table, but there was nothing on it; however, 
he touched the handle of a drawer, which he opened, 
taking out of it a pen, several sheets of paper, and an 
inkstand. The pen had plainly suggested the idea of 
writing, for he sat down, dipped it in the ink, and 
began to write a letter, in which he recommended him- 
self to his commanding officer for the military medal on 
account of his good conduct and his bravery. There 
were many mistakes in the letter, but they were exactly 
the same mistakes in expression and orthography as he 
was in the habit of making when in his normal state. 
From the ease with which he traced the letters and 
followed the lines of the paper, it was evident that his 
sense of sight was in action, but this was placed beyond 
doubt by the interposition of a thick screen between 
his eyes and his hand ; he continued to write a few 
words in a confused and almost illegible manner and 
F 11 


then stopped, without manifesting any impatience or 
discontent. When the screen was withdrawn, he fin- 
nished the uncompleted line and began another. 
Another experiment was made : water was substituted 
for ink. When he found that no letters were visible, 
he stopped, tried the tip of his pen, rubbed it on his 
coat-sleeve, and then began again to write with the 
same results. On one occasion he had taken several 
sheets of paper to write upon, and while he was writ- 
ing on the topmost sheet, it was withdrawn quickly. 
He continued to write upon the second sheet as if 
nothing had happened, completing his sentence without 
interruption, and without any other expression than a 
slight movement of surprise. When he had written 
ten words on the second sheet it was removed as rap- 
idly as the first ; he finished on the third vsheet the 
line which he had begun on the second, continuing 
it from the exact point where his pen was when the 
sheet was removed. The same thing was repeated 
with the third and fourth sheets, and he finished 
his letter at last on the fifth sheet, which contained his 
signature only. He then turned his eyes toward the 
top of this sheet, and seemed to read from the top what 
he had written, a movement of the lip accompanying 
each word ; moreover, he made several corrections on 
the blank page, putting here a comma, there an e, and 
at another place txt ; and each of these corrections cor- 
responded with the position of the words that required 
correction on the sheets which had been withdrawn. 
Dr. Mesnet concludes from these experiments that sight 
really existed, but that it was only roused at the in- 
stance of touch, and exercised only upon those objects 


with which he was in relation through touch. After 
he had finished his letter the sergeant got up, walked 
down to the garden^ rolled a cigarette for himself, 
sought for his match-box, lighted his cigarette, and 
smoked it. When the hVbted match fell upon the 
ground, he extinguished it by putting his foot upon it. 
When the cigarette was finished he began to prepare 
another, but his tobacco-pouch was taken away, and he 
sought in vain for it in all his pockets. It was offered 
to him, but he did not perceive it; it was held up be- 
fore his eyes, but he took no notice of it ; it was thrust 
under his nose, but he did not smell it; when, however, 
it was put into his hand he took it, completed his 
cigarette directly, and struck a match to light it. This 
match was purposely blown out, and another lighted 
one was offered to him, but he did not perceive it ; even 
when it was brought so close to his eyes as to singe a 
few eyelashes he did not notice it, neither did he blink. 
When the match was applied to his cigarette, he took 
no notice and made no attempt to smoke. Dr. Mesnet 
repeated this experiment on several occasions, and 
always obtained the same results. The sergeant saw 
his own match, but saw not the match w^iich Dr. Mes- 
net offered to him. There was no contraction of the 
pupil when the lighted match was brought close to the 
eye. He had once been employed as a singer at a caf§. 
In one of his abnormal states he was observed to hum 
some airs which seemed familiar to him, after which he 
went to his room, took from a shelf a comb and look- 
ing-glass, combed his hair, brushed his beard, adjusted 
his collar, and attended carefully to his toilet. When 
the glass was turned round so that he only saw the 


back of it^ he went on as if he still saw himself in it. 
On his bed there were several numbers of a periodical 
romance. These he turned rapidly over, apparently 
not finding what he wanted. Dr. Mesnet took one of 
these numbers, rolled it up so as to resemble a roll of 
music, and put it in his hand, when he seemed satisfied, 
descended the stairs, and walked across the court of the 
hospital towards the gate. He was turned round, when 
he started off in the new direction given to him, enter- 
ing the lodge of the door-keeper, which opened into 
the hall. At this moment the sun shone brightly 
through a window in the lodge, and the bright light 
evidently suggested the foot-lights of the stage, for he 
placed himself before it, opened the roll of paper, and 
sang a patriotic ballad in an excellent manner. When 
he had finished this he sang a second and a third, after 
which he took out his handkerchief to wipe his face. 
A wine-glass containing a strong mixture of vinegar 
and water was offered to him, of which he took no 
notice, but when it was put in his hand he drank it off 
without exhibiting any sign of an unpleasant sensation. 
Dr. Mesnet propounds the question whether in this 
perfect rendering of the three ballads he heard his own 
voice, or whether the singing was purely as automatic 
as his other actions. The attack came to an end before 
they could make an experiment to test this question. 
When the sergeant is in his abnormal state, it is im- 
possible to awaken him to his normal state, whatever 
efforts be made. No effect is produced either by stim- 
ulation or by strong electrical currents. On one occa- 
sion he was seized suddenly by the shoulders and 
thrown violently upon the grass. He manifested no 


emotion, but, after feeling the turf with his hands, 
raised himself again, calm and impassive. 

" A remarkable feature in the case is that the sergeant 
becomes a veritable MeptomaniaG during the attacks. 
He purloins everything that he can lay his hands on, 
and conceals what he takes under the quilt, the mat- 
tress, or elsewhere. This tendency to take and hide has 
shown itself in each attack. He is content with the 
most trifling articles, and if he finds nothing belonging 
to some one else to steal, he hides, with all the appear- 
ance of secrecy, although surrounded at the time by 
persons observing him, various things belonging to 
himself, such as his knife, water, pocket-book. His 
other actions during an attack are repetitions of his 
former habits ; these acts of stealing are not so.'' 

Professor Huxley raises the question whether this 
man possessed consciousness during all these perform- 
ances, — i.e., whether his actions were accompanied with 
a corresponding train of ideas ; or whether the '^ mind 
is a blank,'' and he is in the condition of the frog de- 
prived of his brain, — an automaton, '^ a mechanism 
worked by molecular changes in the nervous system." 
Professor Huxley, reasoning from the analogy which 
he finds in the frog, inclines to the latter supposition. 
That the man is an automaton there can be no doubt ; 
but I cannot agree in thinking that ideas do not accom- 
pany his muscular movements, but, on the contrary, must 
believe they govern them. In the first place, as Huxley 
admits, there is nothing to ^^ prove that he is abso- 
lutely unconscious;" and in the second place, a much 
stronger analogy, as Dr. Mesnet and Dr. Carpenter have 
pointed out, can be drawn between the performances 



of this man and those of somnambulists — who certainly 
do possess ideas, for they remember them afterwards — 
than between them and the phenomena of the brainless 
frog. If the former comparison be made, the one will 
be found to resemble in important particulars the other ; 
while if the sergeant be compared with the brainless 
frog, an essential difference in the movements of the two 
becomes at once apparent. In the frog deprived of his 
hemispheres, the actions of its muscles are confined to 
such simple movements as swimming, jumping, and 
balancing itself, nearly all the motions performed by a 
frog in its lifetime. Consequently the low^er centres 
are perfectly capable of regulating them. It is similar 
with fishes which simply swim, and pigeons which fly 
and dress their feathers. These actions have been so 
frequently repeated that the lower ganglionic centres 
carry them out automatically without the intervention 
of consciousness, just as a w^oman knits or sews without 
being conscious of what she is doing, and while her 
thoughts are engaged on something else. And there is 
further this peculiarity about the brainless frogs and 
birds : they are absolutely machine-like in character. 
The pigeon thrown into the air will continue to fly until 
it strikes some obstacle or falls exhausted to the ground; 
the fish will swim in the same manner, and even the 
pigeon will starve though food be placed before it, 
unless artificially fed like an infant. There is lacking 
that quality in its actions which we call intelligence. 
To be sure, — a point upon which Huxley lays consid- 
erable stress, — the frog, if a book be placed before him 
and he be made to hop, will jump aside, carefully 
avoiding the obstacle. But this is one of the simplest 


of reflex actions, and similar to unconscious knitting, 
when sight directs the hands ; though we do not per- 
ceive the stitches, an irritation is conveyed direct from 
retina to the optic thalamus and other centres for the 
co-ordination of siglit and movement ; from here the 
nervous current is reflected to the muscles of the limbs, 
and the animal springs in the required direction. This 
is a mechanism as simple as that observed in the well- 
known experiment on the amputated leg of a frog, and 
one which has been performed thousands of times in 
the frog's lifetime, and thus become impressed as it 
were in the nervous centres.^ 

In man there are very few movements performed 
unconsciously without previous education. There are 
some, but they are of the simplest kind, sucli as wink- 
ing, sucking in the infant, crying, and possibly dodging 
the head before an expected blow, etc. Even walking 
is only with difficulty acquired, and it is only after it 
is skilfully learned that it can be performed uncon- 
sciously. It may be said that if a child were prevented 
from using its legs till after the age at which children 
usually walk, his " walking-centres'^ might be suffi- 
ciently developed by the natural processes of growth, 
as with flying in birds, to allow him to walk without 
education. But even so, this is not the case with such 
muscular actions as, for instance, are performed by 

1 It may be that education is not necessary for the develop- 
ment of the mechanism in the lower centres required for such 
simple movements. It has been shown, I believe, that birds, for 
instance, do not learn to fly. If they are confined so that they 
cannot use their wings till after the time when birds usually fly, 
they can fly as well as other birds who have gone through the 
so-called process of education. 


telegraph operators. They sometimes acquire the art 
of telegraphing with such precision, that some are 
enabled to transmit a message while their thoughts are 
fixed upon something else ; ^ that is, they do it uncon- 
sciously. A lady told me that sometimes when she 
finds difficulty in playing correctly on the piano a piece 
of music, she is enabled to accomplish it by fixing her 
mind upon other things. But this is only after long 
and hard labor at practising. In fact, it is the case 
with all associated movements of any degree of com- 
plexity in man, and probably also to a great extent in 
animals, that they first must be acquired consciously 
with the aid of the higher centres of ideation, before 
they can be performed unconsciously^ by the lower 
ones. Applying this to the case of the French sergeant, 
we must suppose, if consciousness were not present, 
that he had repeatedly practised those actions he per- 
formed when he fancied the enemy in sight; and when 
he wrote his letter, he must have written those same 
sentences a great number of times in order to have 
done it unconsciously, and especially to have gone over 
it again to correct his mistakes, when only blank sheets 
of paper lay before him. 

It was found that a certain amount of sight was 
present when associated with the sense of touch, and 
that it was necessary for guidance in writing. Now if 
he wrote without any ideas being present in his mind 
corresponding to what he wrote, that is, absolutely un- 

1 Carpenter's Mental Physiology. 

2 An unconscious act and an automatic act must not be con- 
fused. They are not co-extensive. An act may be automatic 
and unconscious, as in walking, or it may be automatic and 
conscious, as is all mental action. 


consciously, the muscular movements of his hand must 
have been guided by the preceding associated move- 
ments, and by the optical excitations from the letters 
and words he had written. The exact part played by 
each it is impossible to distinguish. In the case of 
the telegraph operator, there is required merely an asso- 
ciation of the optical appearance of each letter with 
the muscular movements required to telegraph the same 
letter^ an association which has been cemented by every 
telegraph operator thousands of times. But with the 
sergeant, for the letter to have been written uncon- 
sciously, the optical appearance of, and muscular move- 
ment necessary for, each letter must have been firmly 
associated with the muscular movement needed to write 
each succeeding letter ; in this way each word must have 
been united with each word, and phrase with phrase, 
and sentence with sentence. To have formed such an 
association, that same letter to his commanding officer 
must have been written hundreds of times. 

In the case of the operator it is copying, in the other 
case it is composition. The latter is a most complicated 
affair, and never could have been done by the lower 
centres without long previous training. If ideas of 
what he was writing were present to his mind, there 
is no great difficulty in understanding the case. He 
wrote as a somnambulist writes, though he was not in 
possession of all his senses. Nor is there any great 
difficulty in the fact that he remembered what he wrote, 
when he read and corrected his letter on a blank sheet. 

Further analysis would show many other facts to 
prove the presence of consciousness. 

But there is one point which hitherto seems to have 


escaped notice^ and which, to my mind, conclusively 
proves that the man had consciousness, and that his 
actions were governed by ideas when he read his letter, 
and corrected and punctuated the blank sheet of paper. 
What was going on in his cerebrum during this time 
which could have caused him to have made the correc- 
tions ? If there was not an image there, in idea, of the 
past composed letter, what directed the corrections ? It 
could not have been the sight of the misspelt words, 
because the paper before him was blank. It may be 
said the movements of his lips, which accompanied the 
re-reading of the letter, by association, regulated the 
correction. But this is merely suspending the world 
upon the elephant, for we have then to account for the 
movement of the lips. But admitting it for the mo- 
ment as sufficient, it is hardly possible that such mus- 
cular movements could have indicated the misspelling 
of a word unless the idea of the word was present to 
his mind. Nor would this be a satisfactory explana- 
tion for the insertion of the punctuation marks. There 
is no movement of the lips corresponding to a comma. 
How could the lips indicate there was no comma there? 
The only satisfactory explanation that can be offered is 
that the ideas which were expressed on paper actually 
were present to his mind ; or, in other words, he pos- 
sessed consciousness. 

But if consciousness was present, there is nothing to 
show that it was not the active agent in the production 
of his actions. On the contrary, there is every evidence 
to prove that it was. All evidence, then^ on the experi- 
mental side, tending to show that feeling is not the cause 
of our actions, falls to the ground. 



Theee is one objection which is sure to be raised 
against the views which have been argued in the pre- 
ceding pages, to the consideration of which I propose 
to devote this chapter. This objection is one which has 
been urged, and it must be confessed with much truth, 
against every other theory of automatism. It arises 
from a fear that in some way or other a limitation will 
be set to the freedom of human thought. If any doc- 
trine of automatism is inconsistent with any fact that 
is established directly by consciousness, it is evidence 
that there is a flaw somewhere in the logic. A doctrine 
to be sufficient must explain all the facts, whether those 
facts be physical or mental. If it does not do so, it is 
not sufficient. 

I propose now to consider whether there is any fact 
on the side of ^^ self-determination^^ with which that 
view of automatism which has been adopted in this 
work is opposed, and if there are any grounds for the 
fear that our mental liberty is in some way abridged 
by it. I may say here, in parenthesis, that any mental 
freedom we may have, we have ; and no doctrine, as a 
doctrine, can abridge it, and no asseveration can give 
us what we have not got. 

It will be my purpose to show that automatism after 
all is not a very terrible thing, and that when properly 



understood it contains nothing that is not reconcilable 
with popular notions regarding mental freedom. Its 
apparent inconsistency with that power, which each 
individual feels and knows he has, will be found to be 
only a bugbear with which to frighten the unthought- 
ful, and when carefully examined will be made to reveal 
its skeleton nature. 

If by self-determination is meant the ability to direct 
our attention in one way more than another, to keep 
our thoughts occupied with one class of facts to the 
exclusion of others, and to make a choice when two 
courses of action are open to us, I know of no evi- 
dence which could be more cogent than that which we 
already possess pointing to the possession of such a 
power. I agree with Dr. Carpenter that the evidence 
of our own consciousness in this respect is sufficient 
and decisive. That I can direct my attention ou any 
particular subject to the exclusion of other subjects, 
provided, of course, the circumstances under which I 
make the trial are not those of great excitement, is a 
fact of consciousness, which I can demonstrate as often 
as I choose to try. Each one has sufficient evidence 
in his own consciousness to show not only that he has 
the.power to direct his attention, and to make a choice, 
when two courses of action are open to him, but that 
he does direct his thoughts, and does make such choice; 
provided] however, and this proviso is of great impor- 
tance, he has a siifftcient motive to do so. For the evi- 
dence of consciousness is equally cogent in deciding 
that in thus directing the course of his thoughts and 
making his choice it is the preponderance of motives 
which determines him. In this there is nothing that 


is incompatible either with the view herein maintained 
of the nature of mind, nor of the automatic character 
of ideas. It is only inconsistent with that cruder form 
of automatism which regards our actions as simply the 
resultant of the bodily mechanism, and makes our 
thoughts mere by-products, without influence upon such 
actions. Such a theory of automatism could only arise 
from the crudest notions of the relation between the 
mind and the body. 

But after having established the power of self-deter- 
mination, the agency by which this is accomplished is 
a second and further question. We say that we have 
this power of determining our actions; but what do we 
understand by this term ivef If by it is meant, as 
seems to be by Dr. Carpenter, Archbishop Manning, 
and others, not only *^ another faculty, but, more than 
this, another agent, distinct from the thinking brain," 
which directs the working of our mind and body, then 
something is assumed which our conscious experience 
can no longer be evoked to establish. We know by 
direct consciousness that our thoughts can be deter- 
mined in this or that direction, according to certain 
previous desires. But I know of no consciousness 
which directly informs us of the manner in which this 
is done, and still less of an extra Ego over and above 
our states of consciousness, which plays with our 
thoughts as it would at ninepins. I can imagine a 
distinct '' faculty" of the mind, which is associated with 
and regulates the other states of mind, but such a 
faculty must be only some state of the mind itself; so 
that the conditions would simply be equivalent to a 
state of consciousness acting on all other states. The 



probability of there being such faculty is another ques- 
tion, which I am not discussing. I know of no evi- 
dence for it, and still less for an extra independent Ego. 
In my judgment, the only way in Avhich we can ascer- 
tain the mechanism by which this self-determination 
is accomplished is to study and analyze that feeling 
of personality commonly called the Ego, which each 
individual has. When we make use of the expres- 
sions ^^we,^^ ^^you,^^ etc., for the ordinary purposes of 
social life, our meaning is plain enough, and it would 
be mere pedantry to ask for a precise definition; we 
should undoubtedly set any one down for an unmiti- 
gated bore who should interrupt us with a demand for 
a philosophical explanation. But in questions of this 
kind involving the deeper strata of human kno^vledge, 
it is not only not superfluous, but absolutely essential to 
define exactly what is meant by every term used, when 
susceptible of different interpretations. Now there are 
several conceptions which may be formed of the Ego. 

There is the idea of an ^^ agent distinct from the 
thinking brain,'^ which directs our processes of thought 
and bodily actions, and to which a sort of ownership 
is given over all the individual portions of the body, 
and the mental faculties. For any such agent as this 
there is no evidence whatsoever. It is merely an ab- 
stract notion, the result of an artifice of thought, and 
has no existence. Therefore, under such a conception, 
the phrase " we have a self-determining power'^ is 
philosophically empty of meaning. 

Another idea of the Ego comprehends the body and 
the mind united together into a whole. No particular 
state of mind is thought of as differentiated from the 


rest, but all possible states of mind united as an abstract 
notion to a body. This is much like the conception 
we form of another person's personality, a sort of ob- 
jective Ego. We have a notion of his body, and we 
imagine an abstract mind, similar to our own, connected 
with it. We have in our thoughts no particular state 
of mind, as an agent, acting on the individuaPs body, 
but an abstract mind. 

Another similar but less comprehensive notion of 
this personality is mind as a whole in distinction from 
the body. Both of these conceptions of the Ego are too 
abstract to serve the purposes of this inquiry. 

That interpretation of this feeling of personality, 
which I conceive to be the correct one, is, that it is a 
compound of any given dominant state of consciousness 
that may be present at any moment, and other faint 
revived former states, and a whole stream of faint im- 
pressions more or less simultaneously coming from the 
periphery of the body. These last are more or less con- 
stant. I take it that consciousness at any given moment 
of time, where the feeling of personality is present, is 
always partly made up of these impressions streaming 
in from the periphery and constituting our consciousness 
of the body. On the other hand, there are times when 
we have absolutely no feeling of an Ego. Such times 
are those of deep thought or revery. In studying my 
own consciousness at such times (by recalling them of 
course afterwards to memory) I cannot recall any feeling 
of personality whatever. All consciousness of surround- 
ings, of my own body, of ray own Ego, disappears. I 
can afterwards only recall successive ideas following 
one another automatically without reference to the sur- 


roundings, without even any sensations from my body. 
Afterwards when I come to myself, as the saying goes, 
these successive ideas are revived faintly as memory 
and become joined with my now dominant state of 
consciousness. This latter now is also reinforced by 
the stream of sensations from the dilBPerent portions of 
the body. These sensations are identical with those 
which have been nearly constantly experienced, and 
constitute my knowledge of my body. With the domi- 
nant active state of consciousness are also associated 
many other faint ideas or remembrances of former 
states. Consequently every state of consciousness where 
this feeling of personality is present is a compound one, 
consisting partly of former states revived and partly of 
new ones, and in many cases the new ones are but re- 
combinations of old ones. It is from this that the 
feeling of personality arises, as it seems to me. Every 
state of consciousness being connected with other states, 
some of which (sensations) are constantly or nearly 
constantly present, they all seem to belong to each 
other and to constitute a whole or Ego, and this Ego 
is always felt to be the same Ego, because part of its 
complex composition always is the same, and its ele- 
ments as elements are the same.^ 

The whole mental process is undoubtedly a very 
complex one, with many variations, and it is almost 
impossible to completely analyze it. An illustration 
will give an idea of the principle which I conceive 
underlies this sense of the Ego. 

^ I have an impression that a somewhat similar explanation has 
been given by Clifford, but I have not his works by me to verify it. 


I am sitting in my study of a hot day, writing. I 
soon feel thirsty. This feeling grows on me till I think 
of satisfying my desire. It becomes my dominant idea. 
I now remember a pitcher of water standing on the 
table opposite^ and impressed by this idea and the effect 
which I imagijie will result if I pour out a glass of 
water and drink it^ I proceed to carry the latter into 
effect. Here is a comparatively simple and yet very 
complex state of affairs. Now how does the sense of 
the Ego arise out of these various states of conscious- 
ness? I conceive it to be in this way. 

The dominant and vivid idea ^^in my mind/^ that is, 
among a complex group of ideas, is the sensation of 
thirst. This sensation does not stand alone, but is 
joined to other sensations from my mouth and throat, 
which are the same sensations as have been constantly 
present before. (For that matter, the sensation of thirst 
is the same sensation often previously present in con- 
sciousness, but now re-excited, just as the molecular 
disturbances underlying it are re-excited in the same 
manner that they have been before.) Other sensations 
from the surface of the body, the same that have been 
experienced before, now reinforce the others. Besides 
this, sensations from my surroundings in my study, the 
same that have time and again, like the others, formed 
a portion of my states of conscience, are now added to 
my present complex state. Most of these sensations 
are not only like but identical with previously present 
sensations, which latter are simply revived. Now all 
these different sensations compounded together give the 
sense of personality, or the Ego, and the now dominant 
sensation of thirst being added, I say, I am thirsty. 



This new sensation becomes incorporated in tlie group, 
to which other sensations, to be in turn dominant, may 
be added, as, again, warmth. I say, I am warm, the 
feeling of warmth being added to a group, in Avhich 
the feeling of thirst now forms an element as a faintly 
revived state. 

Such being the complex out of which the sense of 
personality is formed, it becomes requisite to ask which 
is the active agent in all this in determining action. It 
is undoubtedly the vivid, active state, modified more or 
less by the circumstances of the case. The sensation 
of thirst, for example, is the active agent determining 
me to drink some water and to the performance of the 
requisite actions. The method I employ to satisfy my 
thirst would be modified by the other elements of my 
complex state of consciousness, these varying w^ith the sur- 
roundings, the time of day, and other associated ideas. 

It is this complex state, then, which constitutes the 
Ego, and hence, as a whole, the determining agent, 
though some of its elements are more active than others 
in accomplishing the result. The most vivid and dom- 
inant element, as the feeling of thirst in the above illus- 
tration, might be regarded as the driving power, while 
the associated elements are the steering-gear which reg- 
ulates the action. 

Now in this matter of self-determination, if it be said 
that the Ego — being a complex state of consciousness — 
determines another state of consciousness that may be 
associated with it, with or without, as the case may be, 
its accompanying muscular action, the proposition is a 
truism which cannot be gainsaid. In this sense we 
certainly have self-determination, for the inducing state 


of consciousness is as much a part of self as the succeed- 
ing one that is determined by it. 

But if, on the other hand, it be asserted that the state 
of consciousness called the Ego can determine any other 
state which is not in any way associated with it, and 
irrespective of all former experience by which ideas are 
associated, then something is maintained which is en- 
tirely contrary to all experience and indefensible. It 
cannot be denied that it is possible for us to act in any 
particular manner, provided that that idea, which is di- 
rectly connected with and the precursor of the action in 
question, is present in consciousness, howsoever it may 
arise. In this sense we have self-determination, for 
this idea determines action. But manifestly no idea 
can occasion another idea, or bodily action, whicli is 
not connected with it ; nor can any given state of mind 
or bodily action occur when the state of consciousness 
present is one far removed from the one in question. 
Furthermore, it is self-evident that no idea can arise 
spontaneously. Every idea is conditioned by some 
previous idea or stimulus, and forms a link in a chain 
of events. 

Now if an idea which determines an action is itself 
determined by a preceding idea, which in turn can be 
traced to a still earlier one, and so on back through a 
chain of such ideas, until finally we arrive at a sensory 
stimulus of some kind, it would seem plainly evident 
that the final action is determined indirectly through 
a succession of ideas by the primary stimulus. Fur- 
thermore^ it would seem that, if no disturbing element 
came in, that particular succession of ideas and ensuing 
action must result, and no other. Now this is all the 


reflex theory demands, and in this there is nothing that 
the most extreme defender of self-determination may 
not concede. But if the still further claim be made 
that self-determination is effected by an '^ agent distinct 
from the thinking brain/' by something that is in- 
dependent of our other conscious states, and is not 
governed by the same laws as other states of conscious- 
ness, then something is asserted which cannot be sub- 
stantiated, and which must lie outside the region of 
experience, and be therefore unknowable. For there 
is nothing in our conscious experience which directly 
gives us cognition of this agent, nor anything that 
necessitates one hypothecating it as an explanation of 
known facts. Whether that interpretation of the sense 
of personality which I have offered be the coi'rect one, 
or whether this sense arises from some other combina- 
tion of mental factors, there are no more grounds for 
the assumption of an autocratic Ego than there for- 
merly was for assuming a spiritual entity for an expla- 
nation of mind. 

The question may very pertinently be asked, What 
manner of thing is this Ego? Is it something akin 
to that consciousness which we know is the reality 
of the phenomena of matter, or is it something essen- 
tially foreign in its nature ? If the former, why, it may 
be asked, is it not subject to the same laws that govern 
other states of consciousness ? if the latter, it must be far 
beyond our ken, and the old problem becomes practically 
reproduced, how can it act upon the reality of matter? 

From a physiological point of view, this extreme 
form of self-determination is equivalent to saying that 
" we'' can divert the neural current which naturally 


would flow in one circuit into a different circuit, irre- 
spective of the intensity of the molecular action, and 
the anatomical and physiological connections in the 
brain. This seems to me incomprehensible. 

There is one thing which must not be overlooked, 
and this is, that whatever powers of self-determination 
we may have, every action is determined by the strong- 
est motive. However we may act, we cannot act con- 
trary to the strongest motive ; for the moment we 
conclude to act in opposition to what was the strongest 
motive, the new motive, whatever it be, if it be only the 
desire to show that we have the power to do so, becomes 
the strongest motive, overwhelming the preceding and 
determining action. Whatever motive determines, 
action is the strongest, — else it would not so determine 
us, — and we are compelled to act according to it. 

When we analyze our thoughts it is not always easy 
to make out their automatic character, so complicated 
is any mental action which involves any reasoning pro- 
cess except of the simplest kind. If we examine those 
mental actions which are admitted to be automatic, as 
when one suddenly cries out on being struck, or, to 
take a more elaborate example, when a school-boy 
recites long rules which he has learned by heart from 
his Latin grammar, we shall find the distinguishing 
characteristic to be the absence of deliberation. In fact, 
in many such cases the moment we deliberate we are 
lost. The school-boy, too, often cannot tell whether 
any given word is contained in a list without beginning 
with the first and repeating them in order. 

When one idea follows another without conscious 
effort on our part, without that special feeling called 


volition^ the mental action is said to be automatic; 
while when we have a feeling of volitional eflPort, or 
are conscious of what is called deliberation, our thoughts 
are declared to be automatic. 

But if the reasoning which has been adduced in 
these pages be correct^ this distinction is merely arti- 
ficial; from the lowest form of mental action to the 
highest a gradual transition may be traced^ showing 
that there is no difference in kind, but only one of 
degree. Examples of this action of the mind, when 
the automatic character of the ideas is plainly discern- 
ible, are more or less common in every individual, 
though to some they are to a large extent habitual. 
When we fall into day-dreams and reveries, it is very 
easy to recognize the automatic character of our 
thoughts, one follows another in natural succession, 
according to a previous association. On the other 
hand, it requires considerable introspective skill to 
recognize the same principle in thatstateof mind called 
deliberation, wherein the ideas, instead of following 
one another in progressive series without return to 
the original and fundamental thought, continually di- 
verge from and return to this as a centre ; thus en- 
circling, as it were, the latter, approaching it on all 
sides only to leave it again by every path of ideas that 
may be joined by the bonds of association with it. 
Each ^^lead^^ of thoughts is followed, as if to see 
whither it goes and if it will bring us to the desired end. 
Just as in trying to disentangle a snarl of thread we 
follow each loop in turn, hoping to find the one which 
will unbind the whole, so in deliberation we follow 
each train of ideas that is associated with the central 


thought in the endeavor to find the one that will solv^e 
the problem. 

Between these two modes of activity — Revery and 
Deliberation — there is every possible degree of tran- 
sition, one gradually shading into the other^ and it is 
impossible to say where one begins and the other ends. 

The exalted form of the plainly discernible auto- 
matic action may often be seen in the mental activity 
of men of genius, in whom it is more or less habitual. 
Coleridge and Mozart were particularly interesting 
examples. The former's flow of talk has been described 
as only thinking aloud, and his whole life as only a 
waking dream. His thoughts ran on without regard 
to anything or anybody, heedless of interruption, while 
his words were only the expression of every associated 
and reflected idea. Mozart^s genius was essentially 
automatic, as can be seen from the following account 
of his method of working :^ 

'' You say you should like to know my way of com- 
posing, and what method I follow in writing works of 
some extent. I can really say no more on the subject 
than the following, for I myself know no more about 
it, and cannot account for it. When I am, as it were, 
completely myself, entirely alone, and of good cheer, 
say travelling in a carriage or walking after a good 
meal, or during the night when I cannot sleep, it is on 
such occasions that my ide:\s flow best and most abun- 
dantly. Whence and lioiv they come I know not, nor 
can I force them. Those ideas that please me I retain 

1 See Dr. Carpenter's " Mental Physiology" for an interesting 
account of the automatic character of Coleridge and Mozart's 


in my memory, and am accustomed (as I have been 
told) to hmn them to myself. If I continue in this 
way, it soon occurs to me how I may turn this or that 
morceau to account, so as to make a good dish of it, — 
that is to say, agreeably to the rules of counter-point, 
to the peculiarities of the various instruments, etc. 

"All this fires my soul, and, provided I am not dis- 
turbed, my subject enlarges itself, becomes method- 
ized and defined, and the whole, though it be long, 
stands almost complete and finished in my mindy^o that 
I can survey it like a fine picture, or a beautiful statue, 
at a glance. Nor do I hear in my imagination the 
parts successively, but I hear them, as it were, all at 
once. What a delight this is I cannot tell ! All this 
inventing, this pondering, takes place in a pleasing, 
lively dream. Still the actual hearing of the tout 
ensemble is, after all, the best. What has been thus 
produced I do not easily forget, and this is perhaps 
the best gift I have my Divine Maker to thank for. 

" When I proceed to write down my ideas, I take 
out of the bag of my memory, if I may use that phrase, 
what has previously been collected into it in the way I 
have mentioned. For this reason the committing to 
paper is done easily enough, for everything is, as I have 
said before, already finished, and it rarely differs on 
paper from what it was in my imagination. At this 
occupation I can therefore suffer myself to be dis- 
turbed; for, whatever may be going on around me, I 
write and even talk, but only of fowls and geese, or of 
Gretie or Barbie, or some such matters. But why my 
productions take from my hand that particular form 
and style that makes them Mozartish, and different from 


the works of other composers, is probably owing to the 
same cause which renders my nose so, or so large, so 
aquiline, or, in short, makes it Mozart^s, and different 
from that of other people. For I really do not study 
or aim at any originality; I should, in fact, not be able 
to describe in what mine consists, though I think it 
quite natural that persons who have really an indi- 
vidual appearance of their own are also differently 
organized from others, both externally and internally. 
At least I know that I have not constituted myself 
either one way or another/^ — Holmes^s Life of Mozart, 
p. 318.^ 

This necessary dependence of the brain upon external 
stimuli for thought is well observed in social society. 
It is this need which draws human beings together and 
makes man a social animal. It is to these influences 
that are due the charms of conversation and the pleas- 
ures to be obtained from lectures and at the theatre ; 
and it may be said that it is upon its emotional influ- 
ence that religion depends for its power. It is through 
this stimulation of the mind, the awakening into life 
of the dormant cells of the brain, that we find delight 
in books, in works of art, and music. It is for the 
want of this that the horrors of solitude consist ; we 
need something to stimulate our minds. This we find 
in our friendship with men, in literature, in science. 
They awaken a reaction within us and give us life. By 
their help we can elevate the mind to the highest stages 
of development; by their complete withdrawal it is 
possible to produce perfect idiocy. And just as our 

1 Quoted by Carpenter. Op. cit., p. 272, 
G ^ 13 


muscles, from lack of use, will wither away and become 
useless, so will our minds under the same circumstances 
degenerate and become vacant ; and it may be said in 
general that as the brain in its lowest form of develop- 
ment reco»:nizes onlv sensation, and in its hicyhest 
evolves ideas, that brain is, cdeteris paribus, the most 
highly developed which is capable of responding to 
few thoughts of others with many of its own. 

It may not be unnecessary to caution the reader not 
to confound this question of self-determination with 
that of moral responsibility. It may be thought, at 
first sight, that they are identical. But this is not the 
case. Responsibility depends upon many other factors, 
which are beyond my purpose to consider here. 

There are, undoubtedly, many persons who, simply 
from conservative habits of thought, will be unable to 
accept the views which have been set forth in the pre- 
ceding chapters. The opinions of many such are too 
firmly moulded by time and education to allow them 
to change, no matter how irrefrangible the evidence 
offered, and they must die in the beliefs in which 
they w^ere born. Others there are who, though anxious 
for truth and ready to inquire into all domains of 
knowledge, may likewise be deterred, not so much from 
conservatism as by a fear that in some way the accept- 
ance of a doctrine may lead to a limitation of mental 
freedom. Just as there are many persons who refuse 
to accept the demonstrated truths of evolution, not 
because of the insufficient evidence of the truth, but 
from a fear that some of their religious creeds may be 
overthrown. This sensitiveness from religious scruples 


in the acceptance of scientific doctrines, which is so 
marked in all departments of science, is particularly 
active in inquiries into the problems offered by the 
Mind. For myself, while I am able to recognize the 
force of conservatism, I am unable to understand how 
any right-minded person, how any one who truly seeks 
after knowledge, can have any sympathy with those 
who refuse to accept a doctrine, however strong may 
be the evidence on which it is based, simply from 
fear that when carried to its logical consequences, it 
may antagonize preconceived notions. The only thing 
to be dreaded in all such inquiries is that self-deception 
to which the human mind is prone. I believe our aim 
should be to seek the truth, and as long as we can be 
assured we are on the right road, we should pursue it 
wherever it may lead, and whatever may be the result. 
And if it should happen that the conclusions to which 
we are led are not in harmony with the popular views 
of the day, though the fact may be regretted, our 
results should not for that reason be discarded. 

In advocating that explanation of nervous phe- 
nomena which has been maintained in the preceding 
chapters, I have been actuated by the conviction that 
" that theory is most deserving of credence which ex- 
plains the greatest number of known facts,^^ and I be- 
lieve it has at least the merit of being free from the 
mysticism with which all other doctrines are obscured. 
One by one the old supernatural agents have been 
weeded out of our philosophies. Formerly, whatever 
in nature was beyond the comprehension of the times 
was considered to have a spiritual cause. Whatever 
could not be understood was accounted for by an es- 


sence. Wood burned because the essence fire entered 
into the substance. Water was fluid because the es- 
sence aquosity permeated matter. Gradually^ however, 
as science advanced^ these essences have been gotten rid 
of one by one, and now but one remains. This is mind. 
This, in its turn, must go. It only remains to decide 
whether it shall be to-day or to-morrow. 




But, as I have endeavored to explain on other 
occasions/^ says Professor Huxley, " I really have no 
claim to rank myself among fatalistic, materialistic, or 
atheistic philosophers. Not among fatalists, for I take 
the conception of necessity to have a logical and not a 
physical foundation ; not among materialists, for I am 
utterly incapable of conceiving the existence of matter if 
there is no mind in which to picture that existence ; not 
among atheists, for the problem of the ultimate cause 
of existence is one which seems to me to be hopelessly 
out of reach of my poor powers/^ ^ And '' we anti- 
materialists,' ' cries Mr. Fiske, in the midst of his un- 
called-for vituperation against materialism. Yet Hux- 
ley remarks that " thought is as much a function of 
matter as motion is,'' ^ and Mr. Fiske's position is very 
much the same as that of others who call themselves 
materialists. What, then, is materialism ? 

The term materialism has no definite and deter- 
mined meaning. As soon as the spiritualistic hypothe- 
sis was abandoned as untenable, and it was seen, on 
scientific as well as philosophical grounds, that the 
forces of nature were sufficient to account for the facts 
of consciousness as well as for that which is unconscious 

^ Fortnightly Review, November, 1874. 
2 Lay Sermons and Addresses, p. 338. 

13* 149 


in nature, all sorts of interpretations sprung up and 
were adopted as explanations of mental facts.- While 
the thoughtful were slow to formulate any positive 
opinions as to the exact conditions of the problem, 
others, more hasty and less philosophical, have not hes- 
itated to advance crude and ill-digested dogmas as ex- 
planations of the mental world. But all opinions, 
those of the vulgar and ignorant as well as those of 
the learned, have been classed together, without dis- 
crimination, as modern materialism. What is still 
worse, the opponents of the new philosophy, without 
stopping to distinguish between the good and the bad, 
the sound and the unsound, have at times seized upon 
the most extreme and unsound doctrines, advanced by 
the hasty and irresponsible followers of the leaders in 
thought, and held them up to the public gaze as repre- 
sentative of modern materialism. Not only such un- 
founded doctrines as these, but their own illogical de- 
ductions from scientific truths, which they could not, 
or, what is to be feared is often the case, they would 
not understand, have been ascribed to those who do 
not hold them. Nor have the opponents of materi- 
alism taken the trouble to properly study and under- 
stand the true position of modern science, but falling 
upon some accidental inexactness of expression, have 
employed it as a text to assail opinions which were 
never maintained. It does not make the mode of at- 
tack any the less dishonest that those who have made 
it have stood high in public estimation. A false ma- 
terialism has thus been created, the origin of which is 
to be found alone in the minds of those who have set 
themselves up as the champions of the public virtue. 


The term materialism has come to be clothed with a 
meaning which does not belong to it, and has been used 
simply as a term of vituperation and abuse. This has 
led the real exponents of the doctrine to repudiate 
opinions to which false meanings have been attached, 
and which have been often wilfully misunderstood. 

What, then, is a materialist ? 

I conceive that there are two positions upon either 
one of which we must stand, and between which there 
is no half-way resting-place. Either all the facts of 
nature with which we are conversant — both those of 
the subjective world of thought and of the objective 
world of things about us — are to be referred to natural 
forces for their explanation, or one class of facts, the 
subjective, are to be ascribed to a supernatural agent, 
leaving the objective world of things for natural forces 
alone. The former, under whatever interpretation it 
is presented, is materialism ; the latter is spiritualism. 
We must accept either one or the other. 

To show that matter is not what it is supposed to be 
by the vulgar and ignorant, that it is something far 
removed from the ordinary conception of it, is not to 
remove it in any way from the field of materialism. 
Nor by arbitrarily limiting the term " matter" to the 
appearances of objects, and identifying those facts 
which we call mind with that substratum underlying 
these appearances, have we in any way avoided the 
consequences of materialism. Showing that this sub- 
stratum is not tables and chairs and sticks and stones 
as we know them, is not to remove it from the material 
world and place it in the spiritual world ; to do so is 
to invest spiritualism with a meaning which it does not 


possess; and yet this, if I do not misunderstand him, is 
practically the position of Mr. Fiske. I dislike very 
much to ascribe opinions to any writer for fear of 
misrepresenting him, and therefore I speak, as Mr. 
Fiske himself has said, " subject to correction,^^ and I 
am the more timid in this respect because the history 
of philosophy has shown that it is the peculiar fate of - 
writers on abstruse subjects to be misunderstood. 

As long as anything is the resultant of the forces 
of nature it belongs to materialism. Spiritualism, on 
the other hand, has always been understood to refer to 
something that is supernatural and is not conditioned 
by the laws of nature. To show, then, that matter is 
something else than what we have supposed it to be, is 
not to remove it to the realms of spiritualism, for it is 
still something which is conditioned by natural laws. 
And consequently because we have reason to believe 
that mind is identical with this real matter (or an 
'' aspect^^ (?) of it), and is not identical with the vulgar 
conception of matter, we do not in any way escape 
from the bonds of materialism. Every one knows that 
thought is not stones, or sticks, or horses, or dogs, or 
even physical vibrations, or neural undulations; "it 
needs no ghost (or philosopher), my lord, to tell us this.'^ 
But thought may be identical with the substratum un- 
derlying certain physical vibrations, and any doctrine 
which accepts this, express it in any words you please, 
is materialism. Any doctrine which rests content with 
nature, and does not introduce any supernatural element, 
is materialism. 

By showing that there is something in nature more 
potent than we have ever conceived of, something 


which is beyond the powers of our poor senses to ap- 
prehend in its reality, materialism elevates our concep- 
tion of matter and our appreciation of the powers of 
nature. This is a sufficient task. Unfortunately, we 
have all been taught to look upon matter as something 
inert and base. In this we have seen only with our 
eyes, and have not looked behind the appearances of 
things. Behind them nature herself lies concealed, 
and when she has shown herself to us in her nakedness 
and without disguise in the form of our thoughts, we 
have failed to recognize her, and mistaken her for a 
supernatural goblin. 

We now know, thanks to science and philosophy, 
that matter is no longer the dead and senseless thing it 
is popularly supposed to be. We know that the so- 
called properties of matter, the shape, the color, the 
hardness, and other qualities of objects, do not exist 
outside of our own minds, but that objects as known 
to us are merely forms of our own consciousness. Yet, 
though this be true, we also know that besides these 
forms of our own consciousness, there is something 
else, which exists outside of them, and is the cause 
of them; that this something else consists of *^ ac- 
tivities'^ or ^^ forces'^ of an unknown nature, and that 
these activities constitute the real object, the thing-in- 
itself. Objects, as we know them, are only sensations 
or modes of consciousness by which we apprehend these 
external activities, or, in other words, the reaction of 
our organism to these forces. 

Matter, then, may embrace at least two conceptions 
(page 33), subjective matter and objective matter, — 
the latter being the real thing, though unknown. 


Though we cannot picture to our mmds the nature of 
these external forces^ which must be forever unknown 
to us^ Evohition teaches us that they must be allied in 
nature to consciousness. The elemental forces which 
underlie the functions of the organic world are the same 
as those which underlie the properties of the inorganic 
world. The reality of the carbon atom is the same 
whether it occur combined with two atoms of oxygen 
simply in the form of carbonic acid gas, or whether it 
be joined with many atoms of carbon, oxygen, hydro- 
gen, and nitrogen in the form of a molecule of vital 
protoplasm. And the difference of properties and 
functions depends upon the greater or less complexity 
of the groupings of the elemental Realities. Finally, 
as we ascend in the scale of animal life, bv more com- 
pFex grouping of these elemental forces the first germs 
of consciousness arise, which reaches its highest devel- 
opment in the brain of man.^ 

The whole universe, then, instead of being inert is 
made up of living forces; not conscious, because con- 
sciousness does not result till a certain complexity of 
organization appears, but, using figurative language, it 
may be said to be pseudo-conscious. It is made up of 
the elements of consciousness. It is to these forces that 
are due the phenomena of the inorganic world, of life and 
of Mind. And when we reduce the problems of life 
and mind to terms of this matter, we deal with mate- 
rialism. Any doctrine which recognizes these truths 
in this or some modified form still remains, in my 

^ See note to page 69. Clifford, I think, was the first to clearly 
recognize and formulate this principle, though glimpses of it may 
have been caught by others. 


judgment^ materialism. Matter is elevated to a higher 
rank, but it is still matter. 

But after everything has been reduced to its lowest 
terms^ after everything has been shown to be dependent 
upon the inherent forces of nature and the resultant 
of material conditions, have the dignity and attributes 
of anything that exists been in any way detracted from ? 
Because man has been shown to be the last and higliest 
expression in the order of development of nature, and 
the final resultant of those natural forces which have 
produced all other forms of life, have his dignity and 
powers as man been in any way impaired? And be- 
cause mind, the chef dfceuvre of creation and final 
product of vital forces has been shown to be the out- 
come of the same material conditions as other vital 
phenomena, have its qualities been in any way im- 
paired? Though science and philosophy may discover 
the causation and origin of phenomena, it cannot by so 
doing alter by a hair^s breadth those phenomena them- 
selves and make them what they are not. We may 
determine the elements of which any given product is 
composed^ and ascertain the conditions by which it has 
arisen, but we cannot through such an analysis show 
that product to be anything else than what it is. The 
direction and energy of any force is not in any way 
changed by the discovery of the elementary forces of 
which it is the resultant. 

Is the sparkle of a diamond any the less brilliant, 
or is the stone less valuable, because the chemist tells 
us, as a result of his analysis, it is nothing but carbon? 
The pessimist may tell us from the gloom of his half- 
fledged materialism that Raphael's great picture, the 


Sistine Madonna^ is after all nothing but paint and 
canvas, nothing but a conglomeration of yellow ochre, 
and Prussian blue, and copper green and red, spread 
upon some twisted and interwoven strands of flax. 
But after he has told us this, interesting possibly from 
a teclmical point of view if we did not know it before, 
he has not in any way detracted from the beauty of 
the picture. The picture is not yellow ochre nor 
Prussian blue, nor any other of these elements he has 
detailed, but the resultant of their combined prop- 
erties, so combined that the final product is the ma- 
terialized image of the great artistes conception fixed 
indelibly for all time. You may analyze the substance 
of the work till you have reduced it to its lowest 
chemical and physical terms, to a final conglomeration 
of atoms, but when you have finished there stands the 
picture as beautiful and as grand as ever, unaltered in 
a single line by your analysis and its color undimmed 
in a single spot. The picture is what it is, no matter 
what the elements may be which compose its sub- 
stance; the resultant of all these forces is the picture, 
the finished whole. 

And so it is with man. By showing that man has 
been slowly evolved through natural forces from the 
lowest forms of animal life, his powers and qualities as 
man have not been impaired in a single respect. There 
are some who fear, because the tradition has been out- 
grown whereby man came upon the earth as a sudden 
and miraculous act of creation and was deposited in 
a paradise where everything was prepared for his 
wants, that thereby his dignity as man is in some way 
detracted from. Just as there are some people who, 


though by their superior abilities they have raised 
themselves above their fellow-beings and surpassed 
them in the race of life, are nevertheless ashamed of 
the lowly position from which they started ; forgetting 
that this very fact proves their superiority and renders 
their talents more conspicuous. It is this very disad- 
vantage at the beginning which should make thorn 
more proud of their success at the end. And so in the 
progress of evolution on this world^ the fact that man 
is the highest and culminating expression of nature 
should render us proud of our pre-eminence and of the 
exalted position we occupy. 

And when we pass to those faculties which distin- 
guish man from all other forms of creation, and make 
him facile princeps, — his mental characteristics, — are 
his intellectual or moral qualities in any way belittled 
when it is discovered that these qualities are also the 
products of natural forces, and are the result of the 
laws of evolution? Though we may show that the 
highest flights of the intellect, the dramas of Shake- 
speare, the great Cathedral of St. Peter of Michael 
Angelo, and the Madonna of Raphael, are but the ex- 
pression of natural forces, we do not in any way detract 
from the grandeur and beauty of the work. Nor is 
the greatness of moral laws in any way impaired by 
the discovery that they also owe their existence to the 
slow forces of evolution, and have been dependent upon 
the organic development of the brain. Though their 
germs may be found in the psychological and physio- 
logical laws governing the lowest races of mankind, 
nay, further, in the lower orders of animals, the moral 

laws themselves are as dominant and sublime as though 



they were the express laws of a Creator given alone to 
man in his most developed state. 

^^Do not unto others what ye would not that they 
should do unto you'^ is no less grand in its conception 
because it is the resultant of material conditions. The 
lover will not sigh any the less '^ like a furnace'^ be- 
cause you inform him his love is only the reality of 
molecular disturbances in his brain. We do not in any 
way soften the grief of the mother who mourns the 
loss of her first-born by telling her that her grief is the 
product of material factors^ nor is our sympathy in any 
way lessened by the knowledge. She will tell you she 
knows nothing of all this, only that the life that is gone 
will never return again. 

Our thoughts, our feelings, our hopes, our griefs, our 
pleasures, and our pains are the same and as we know 
them, whether their origin be found in matter or in a 

But there is one respect in which materialism is far 
more elevating than any other doctrine. It is this. 
Though materialism may, in the opinion of some 
people, degrade man from the lofty position which, in 
his pride and arrogance, he had assumed for himself, 
and relegate him to a lowlier one at the head of the 
brute creation, it, on the other hand, elevates the latter 
to a higher station and extends the hand of sym|)athy 
to suffering, whether in man or animal. Materialism 
teaches us that the animals, though not so highly de- 
veloped as ourselves, still differ from us only in degree, 
however great that degree may be. It teaches us that 
though their thoughts may not be as complex and ex- 
tensive as our own, they still have thoughts. That 


they have emotions and sensations, pleasures and pains, 
like ourselves, and the lash of the whip stings as smartly 
as when applied to our own backs. 

Materialism teaches us that, however lowly, they 
belong to our kith and kin, and though it may be 
necessary and proper that man should hold dominion 
over them, it should be exercised with clemency and 
discrimination. There can be no doubt that the belief 
that man is not only superior to the brute, but belongs 
to a supernatural order of beings, has tended to lessen 
our sympathy for these lower forms of creation, and 
blunt our sensibilities regarding them. The belief has 
become too general that the animal is not only a 
machine, but an insensible machine, and it too often 
happens that our sympathy remains untouched, even 
though the dog may lick the hand that slays it with the 

J^or will the morality of materialism compare un- 
favorably with that of any other philosophy. Materi- 
alism does not destroy morality, it merely seeks a new 
source for its origin. It is a fact, which no amount of 
analysis or scientific investigation can negative, that we 
have in us certain ideas and feelings, which we call 
principles, — moral principles. You may call these 
laws of thought if you please, but the class to which 
they belong we call moral. Under any other name 
they would be as real and as influential in determining 
our actions as that designated by the term morality. 
It is an interesting study to inquire into the conditions 
which have given rise to these laws of thought, and 
this science does, by investigating not only human 
nature as it existed in historic and, so far as is pos- 


sible^ in prehistoric times, and attempting to follow its 
development step by step to the present time, however 
imperfectly this can be done, but also by a compara- 
tive study of the lower animals, and of the numerous 
savage and lower races of men which inhabit the 
various portions of the earth to-day. As moral laws 
are really psychological laws, this becomes a compara- 
tive and historical psychology. 

While the spiritualist accounts for these laws on the 
principle of intuition, or, in other words, by presup- 
posing the existence of innate ideas of right and 
wrong, duty, etc., which, already developed and per- 
fected, have been implanted in the mind by a Creator, 
the scientific inquirer after truth, rejecting any such 
lazy and unintelligent method of explaining the origin 
of phenomena, seeks an explanation in natural con- 
ditions alone. We will not here notice the miscon- 
struction and personal abuse to which the latter thus 
exposes himself, and that, too, simply because he pre- 
fers truth, however shocking it may be to his earlier 
sentiments and beliefs, to the superstitious and igno- 
rant dogmas of passionate partisans. I do not pro- 
pose to enter here into anything of a polemical nature, 
and, least of all, to say anything which may jar upon 
the sentiments of any one, but to discuss the matter 
before us in a straightforward and philosophical 
way, without regard to preconceived opinions and 

But while the scientific investigator seeks in this 
direction an explanation of these moral facts, he does 
not in any way attempt to deny the existence of the 
facts themselves. On the contrary, his very inquiries 


presuppose their existence, for which indeed he en- 
deavors to account. 

That the individual does possess moral principles is 
a psychological fact, and the belief in their validity is 
as cogent in regulating and governing our conduct, 
whether the origin of such moral beliefs shall be found 
in a slow psychological evolution through the force of 
the principle of utility, sympathy, or other equally 
efficient force, or in a special act of creation by which 
they become attributes of a spiritual essence. And it 
is perfectly evident that a moral principle, which has 
become evolved and recognized as desirable, may be 
impressed upon the mind by education, and so firmly 
implanted there through the law of association of ideas 
as to become a dominant factor in modifying the con- 
duct of the individual. When once ideas have become 
strongly bound together by association, — and this is 
what moral principles are, — they exert a powerful influ- 
ence over our actions and thoughts, and are not easily 
overcome by other feelings. In this respect they are 
like all other associations of ideas, the influence of 
which may be seen in political and religious beliefs, in 
our prejudices and other notions. And so strong may 
the influence of moral principles become from this 
cause that they may still continue to direct the conduct, 
though other processes of reasoning may logically con- 
vince us of the want of validity of the principles. Thus 
even those who are honestly convinced of the absence 
of anything obligatory in duty and other principles of 
ethics, still allow their conduct to be influenced by these 
notions, for the reason that by the time they have reached 
an age to think about such matters, their character has 
I 14^ 


become so formed that they can only act in opposition 
to it at the expense of their mental happiness. These 
moral principles have then become automatic, as it were. 
When this is the case, the same tendency to similar 
thought becomes transmitted to the offspring, who thus 
tends to inherit the same association of ideas or moral 
principles possessed by the parents, just as children 
inherit the ordinary peculiarities of character of the 
parents. In this respect, then, moral laws become in- 
nate or intuitive. However, it is a fact which cannot be 
gainsaid, that for the existence of moral principles it is 
requisite that the brain shall have acquired a certain 
degree of development. I think it will be found that 
moral principles become recognized as standards, even 
if not realized in practice, in direct proportion to the 
capacity of the mind to originate abstract ideas, and 
that in the lower races only a very low standard of 
ethics can prevail among those people whose minds do 
not rise above the conception of specific objects. Some 
of the tribes of Oceanica and Australia have words for 
particular trees, as walnut-tree or beech-tree, etc., but 
none for a tree in the abstract. Such people cannot 
possess any abstract notion of a tree or any other object 
or quality. 

It has been said that the " lowest among the Ocean- 
eans and Africans (as the aboriginal Australians, the 
South Sea negroes, Bushmen, Central Africans, etc.) 
are entirely destitute of general ideas or abstract notions. 
Past and future concern them not. The Australian 
has no words to express the ideas of God, religion, 
righteousness, sin, etc. He knows almost no other 
sensation than the need of food, which he endeavors in 


every way to satisfy^ and makes known to the traveller 
by grimaces. ^In them the capability of considering 
and inferring/ says Hale (Natives of Australia, 1846), 
' appears to be very imperfectly developed. The reasons 
which the colonists use in order to convince or persuade 
them are mostly such as are employed with children 
and half imbeciles.^ ^^ ^ 

To have any code of ethics which shall approach the 
standard set by civilized nations, whether these nations 
be composed of Christians or Buddhists, it is essential 
that the mind shall be sufficiently developed to conceive 
of abstract notions, such as ideas of right and wrong, 
etc., and no religion can arise till the mind is capable 
of entertaining the idea of causation, etc. 

The animals are probably content with the simple fact 
of existence, and never seek to know the reason or cause 
for that existence, the why or the how. They accept 
the fact without the idea ever entering their minds of 
inquiring further. The lowest races of men differ from 
the brutes very slightly in this respect. " I frequently 
inquired of the negroes,^^ says Park, " what became of 
the sun during the night, and whether we should see 
the same sun or a different one in the morning, but I 
found that they considered the question as very childish. 
The subject appeared to them as placed beyond the reach 
of human investigation; they had never indulged a con- 
jecture nor formed any hypothesis about the matter.^' ^ 

" A friend of Mr. Lang's ^ tried long and patiently 
to make a very intelligent, docile, Australian black 

1 Buchner, Man in the Past, Present, and Future. Eng* 
Trans., p. 313. 

2 Lubbock's Origin of Civilization, Amer. ed., p. 5. 


understand his existence without a body, but the black 
never could keep his countenance, and generally made 
an excuse to get away. One day the teacher watched, 
and found that he went to have a hearty fit of laughter 
at the absurdity of the idea of a man living and going 
about without arms, legs, or mouth to eat ; for a long 
time he could not believe that the gentleman was serious, 
and when he did realize it, the more serious the teacher 
was, the more ludicrous the whole affair appeared to the 
black/ ^^^ With a mind of such a character it is appa- 
rent that no religion worthy of the name could be con- 
ceived of, nor could we expect to find any moral prin- 
ciples of an exalted nature in force among such people. 
Whatever principles they may have must conduce only 
to the gratification of the appetites and passions. 

'^ The aborigines of New Caledonia, akin to the Feji- 
Islanders, and belonging to the Papuan group, have, 
according to Van Rochas, no shame, go quite naked, 
and indulge in a number of excesses of the basest kind. 
They have intelligence as the beasts, but no moral emo- 
tions, are faithless in the highest degree, perjured, crafty, 
will strike any one down from behind, are cannibals, 
eating not merely their enemies, but even their own 
relatives, can only with difficulty count the lowest 
numbers, use strong abortives, and bury the aged alive. 
If a chief is hungry, he straightw^ay knocks down one 
of his subjects.'' ^ 

^^The Australians,'' says a lady who emigrated to 
Australia, ^^live quite naked in huts of bark, in which 

1 Lubbock's Origin of Civilization, Amer. ed., p. 245. 

2 Biichner, op. cit., p. 315. 


they sleep with their dogs. They eat anything, — in- 
sects, serpents, worms, roots, berries, etc., — have no 
fixed dwelling-place, and are quite incapable of civili- 
zation. The missionaries have long given up every 
attempt to civilize them, for if one baptize them it has 
no more effect than the baptism of a dog or a horse ; 
they understand nothing of the signification of the act. 
Marriages are very loose, infanticide is universal, the 
aged are put to death. They live only in the present, 
and think neither of the past nor the future. They 
cannot be taught any principles. They are dead to 
all morality. They know no sentiment, no spiritual 
life, no love, no gratitude, but only unbridled passion, 
and the sense of their nothingness against the white 
races.^^ ^ 

But there is one mistake easy to fall into in consider- 
ing the state of morality of communities, and this is to 
assume, because of the absence in the lower races of the 
moral laws which prevail among highly civilized na- 
tions, that therefore the former are totally lacking in 
morality. On the contrary, they often have laws 
which though to us seemingly absurd and without rea- 
son, and not existing among civilized peoples, yet be- 
long to the moral class, and prohibit, under the most 
stringent punishment, practices which are perfectly 
justifiable under our systems of government and codes 
of ethics. For example, among those nations which 
practice exogomy, that is, marriage only with individ- 
uals of a foreign tribe, marriage within the tribe is re- 
garded as incest, and is punishable with death. This 

1 Biichner, op. cit., p. 314. 


is the case among the Kurnai^ in Australia. Such 
people would regard our practice of marrying within 
our own caste or nationality as highly immoral and in- 
cestuous. One rather amusing custom among these 
people and, strangely enough, quite commonly diffused 
among similar tribes throughout the globe, is that of 
forbidding all social intercourse between mother-in-law 
and son-in-law.^ After marriage the son-in-law is not 
allowed even to speak to his mother-in-law. 

Numerous other customs of a more important char- 
acter, and which exert considerable influence upon the 
character of the race, might be mentioned as prevalent 
among various races low in the scale of development. 

Mr. Galbraith, who lived for many years, as Indian 
agent, among the Sioux (North America), thus describes 
them : they are '' bigoted, barbarous, and exceedingly 
superstitious. They regard most of the vices as vir- 
tues. Theft, arson, rape, and murder are among them 
regarded as the means of distinction ; and the young 

1 '' The Kamilaroi and Kurnai," by Lorimer Howitt and A. W. 

2 " A Brabotung, who is a member of the Church of England, 
was one day talking to me. His wife's mother was passing at 
some little distance, and I called to her. Suffering at the time 
from cold, I could not make her hear, and said to the Brabotung, 
' Call Mary, I want to speak to her.' He took no notice what- 
ever, but looked vacantly on the ground. I spoke to him again 
sharply, but still without his responding. I then said, ' What do 
you mean by taking no notice of me?' He thereupon called out 
to his wife's brother, who was at a little distance, ' Tell Mary 
Mr. Howitt wants her.' And turning to me, continued, reproach- 
fully, * You know very well I could not do that ; you know 
I cannot speak to that old woman.' " — Kamilaroi and Kurnai^ 
p. 203. 



Indian from childhood is taught to regard killing as 
the highest of virtues. In their dances, and at their 
feasts, the warriors recite their deeds of theft, pillage, 
and slaughter as precious things; and the highest, in- 
deed, the only ambition of a young brave is to secure 
' the feather,^ which is but a record of his having 
murdered or participated in the murder of some human 
being, — whether man, woman, or child, it is immaterial . 
and after he has secured his first ' feather,' appetite is 
whetted to increase the number in his cap, as an Indian 
brave is estimated by the number of his feathers/^ ^ 

These Indians it is evident had moral laws, though 
they were of a very opposite standard from our own. 
It was probably a moral law which induced the Spar- 
tans as well as savages to destroy the sickly children. 

The extent to which some of the lower races will 
sacrifice their own feelings to their sense of duty, how- 
ever distorted 'the latter may appear to us, is not often 
surpassed by more civilized people. 

'' The Feejeeans believe that ' as they die such will 
be their condition in another w-orld ; hence their desire 
to escape extreme infirmity.^ The way to Mbulu, as 
already mentioned, is long and difficult ; many always 
perish, and no diseased or infirm person could possibly 
succeed in surmounting all the dangers of the road. 
Hence as soon as a man feels the approach of old age, 
he notifies to his children that it is time for him to die. 
If he neglects to do so, the children after a while take 
the matter into their own hands. A family consulta- 
tion is held, a day appointed, and the grave dug. The 

1 Lubbock's Origin of Civilization. 


aged person has his choice of b:^Ing sti angled or buried 
alive. Mr. Hunt gives the following striking descrip- 
tion of such a ceremony once witnessed by him. A 
young man came to him and invited him to attend his 
mother's funeral^ which was just going to take place. 
Mr. Hunt accepted the invitation and joined the proces- 
sion^ but surprised to see no corpse, he made inquiries, 
when the young man ^pointed out his mother, who was 
walking along with them as gay and lively as any of 
those present, and apparently as much pleased. Mr. 
Hunt expressed his surprise to the young man, and 
asked him how he could deceive him so much by say- 
ing his mother was dead, when she was alive and well. 
He said, in reply, that they had made her death-feast, 
and were now going to bury her; that she was old, 
that his brother and himself had thought she had lived 
long enough, and it was time to bury her, to which she 
had willingly consented, and they were about it now. 
He had come to Mr. Hunt to ask his prayers, as they 
did those of the priest. 

'' ' He added that it was from love for his mother that 
he had done so ; that in consequence of the same love, 
they were now going to bury her, and that none but 
themselves could or ought to do such a sacred office ! 
Mr. Hunt did all in his power to prevent so diabolical 
an act; but the only reply he received was that she 
was their mother, and they were her children, and they 
ought to put her to death. On reaching the grave, the 
mother sat down, when they all, including children, 
grandchildren, relations, and friends, took an affection- 
ate leave of her; a rope made of twisted tapa was then 
passed twice around her neck by her sons, who took 


hold of it and strangled her; after which she was put 
in her grave, with the usual ceremonies. 

'' So general was this custom that in one town contain- 
ing several hundred inhabitants Captain Wilkes did 
not see one man over forty years of age, all the old 
people having been buried/^ ^ 

On the other hand, as Lubbock has pointed out, a 
state of society where vice and crime are absent do not 
necessarily indicate a high moral standard. It may 
simply be due to negative virtue, to an absence of any 
inducement to commit crime, or to a mind so imper- 
fectly developed as to be devoid of appetites or a desire 
to gratify them. Such persons can no more be praised 
for virtue than can tlie domestic cow be deserving of 
reward for refraining from murder or other human 

For the conception of a code of morality similar to 
that embraced by Christianity and Buddhism, there is 
required a brain of high organization. Though the 
converse is not true, that a highly organized brain im- 
plies a high standard of morality, it only signifies the 
possibility of such a standard. There are large num- 
bers of other conditions, those embraced under the 
social and political forces which determine the nature 
of the moral code in force among any people at any 
particular epoch. These conditions are beyond our 
purpose to consider here, but I would call attention to 
the fact that a distinction must be drawn between the 
theoretical and practical morality of a community, be- 
tween the moral principles exemplified in the life of 

^ Lubbock's Origin of Civilization, p. 248. 
H 16 


the masses of the people and that standard advocated 
and practised only by the moral specialists. Just as 
at a time when the pagan Greeks were worshipping 
their false gods, the philosopher wise above his time, 
six hundred centuries before the birth of Christ, smiled 
at the simplicity and credulity of his fellows while he 
sang : 

'* There is one God supreme over all gods, diviner than mortals, 
Whose form is not like unto man's, and as unlike his nature; 
" But vain mortals imagine that gods like themselves are be- 
With human sensations and voice and corporeal members ; 
*' So, if oxen or lions had hands that could work in man's 
And trace out with chisel or brush their conception of god- 
Then would horses depict gods like horses, and oxen like oxen. 
Each kind the divine with its own form and nature endow- 

In estimating the moral condition of a people, as 
Lecky has well remarked, it is necessary to consider 
both the moral code advocated as a standard and the 
actual habits of the people themselves.^ 

1 Xenophanes of Colophon. 

2 " In estimating, however, the moral condition of an age, it 
is not sufficient to examine the ideal of moralists. It is neces- 
sary, also, to inquire how far that ideal has been realized among 
the people. The corruption of a nation is often reflected in the 
indulgent and selfish ethics of its teachers ; but it sometimes 
produces a reaction, and impels the moralist to an asceticism 
which is the extreme opposite of the prevailing spirit of society. 
The means which moral teachers possess of acting upon their 
fellows vary greatly in their nature and efficacy, and the age of 
the highest moral teaching is often not that of the highest gen- 


For a high standard of morality not only is it es- 
sential that the brain should be highly developed and 
capable of forming abstract conceptions^ which shall 
be so firmly implanted in it, as it were, as to automat- 
ically govern our thoughts and actions, but the ac- 
quisition of extended experience and knowledge is 
necessary for the development of these moral concep- 
tions. When this latter is lacking we find either the 
moral standard is low, or, if high, is only in practice 
of limited application. Thus the Indian, who regards 
the murder of one of his own tribe as a moral crime, 
considers the killing of an individual of a foreign 
tribe as the highest virtue. And even among nations 
boasting of Christian civilization, w^e find different 
standards of ethics in force within the nation from 
that which it practises between itself and foreign na- 
tions. National and international ethics are two dif- 
ferent things. When our knowledge becomes so far 
extended that each nation shall perceive that the results 
of a high degree of morality will be as beneficial to a 
nation in its relations to another as in the relations be- 
tween individuals, a much higher international moral 
code will be established than exists to-day, and as the 
principles become ingrained in the mind, they will 
tend by inheritance and education to become automatic 
and dominant in regulating international conduct. 

After those modes of thought called moral principles 
have become established and automatic, it makes no 

eral level of practice. ... In addition, therefore, to the type 
and standard of morals inculcated by the teachers, an historian 
must investigate the realized morals of the people." — Lecky^s 
History of European Morals. Preface, 


difference by what process they have become evolved. 
Whatever it may be^ their influence in dominating the 
conduct is the same. We refrain from doing any act 
because we think it is wrong, and we do something else 
because w^e think it is right, and we judge it is right or 
wrong according as it is or is not in harmony with cer- 
tain fixed principles which have been formulated as 

But while this is the case, the different schools of 
philosophy markedly differ in the incentives which each 
offers to induce an adherence to moral principles. 

In the theological school a system of rewards and 
punishments plays a very important part at least, and in 
the past has played a greater part. People have been 
taught to act honestly and uprightly in order that they 
may hereafter be rewarded, and warned against immor- 
ality by the fear of future punishment. We are urged 
to a certain course of action for our own good and for 
our own benefit. Compare such a code with that 
offered by materialism and see if the latter loses by 
the comparison. Instead of being reminded of reward 
and punishment, we are told to act uprightly for the 
common benefit of humanity and of the human race, 
not for the sake of benefiting ourselves alone. The 
individual is educated to regard the good of the many 
as that for which the individual should strive, and his 
reward and punishment is to be found in the happiness 
or unhappiness of his fellow-beings. 

An Italian Jesuit priest, who made it his duty to 
attend those dying in one of our hospitals and help 
their souls onwards as they started on their final jour- 
ney, once fell into argument with me on the subject of 


religion. Becoming finally heated with the argument, 
he exclaimed, with more candor than caution, " I do 
not care for the broken arms and the broken legs ; the 
hospital might burn up, I would not care. It is a little 
corner for myself in the beautiful land I wish to maJce.^^ 
I suppose that he regarded each soul saved as scoring 
one for himself. 

Though no one would impute such selfish motives to 
the majority of mankind, still it is hard to deny that 
they enter into theological morality. 

Though this system may be justified by the fact that 
the world is not yet prepared for a higher code, such 
as that offered by materialism, the system is not thereby 
elevated. It is a fact, and a melancholy one, that 
human nature is weak, and in its present state of de- 
velopment requires to be stimulated by the promise of 
reward, and to be checked by the threat of punishment; 
and so-called moral philosophers would, if they were 
really philosophers, recognize this fact with its neces- 
sary consequences, and cease to rail at the existing 
order of things, and refrain from thrusting their own 
systems of philosophy, however elevating theoretically, 
upon a world unprepared for them. 

Theological ethics is that best suited for the control 
of man as he now exists. Whether mankind will in 
the future attain to a degree of development which will 
enable the individual to perform a duty for duty's sake, 
without hope of reward or fear of punishment, is a 
question which belongs to the domain of speculation. 

At present, however humiliating may be the thought, 
man, like the brute, can only be tamed and morally edu- 
cated by the alternate use of sweetmeats and the lash. 


6 86 1 

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